Background: The need to belong has been proposed as the most basic need for human psychological well-being. Lack of belongingness has been associated with stress, anxiety and lack of esteem. Social and psychological functioning in the workplace has been linked to nurses' interconnection with others and their perceptions of belongingness. Aim: To explore factors contributing to Malaysian nurses' sense of belonging in the workplace. Methods: A descriptive questionnaire survey of registered nurses (n=437) working in two Malaysian hospitals was conducted in 2011. Previously validated questionnaires translated into the Malay language were used. Data were analysed using SPSS 19.0. Results: Nurses enhanced their sense of belonging through acceptance, 'fitting in', respect and group harmony. There were no specific demographic factors contributing to the nurses' perceptions. The findings suggest that these priorities for belongingness were contextually influenced by factors such as elements of Malaysian culture, the nature of nurses' teamwork and stereotypical values on the nursing profession. Limitations: Data were collected in only two hospitals. Experiences of nurses in other hospitals and areas of Malaysia may not be similar. The influence of Malaysian culture in this study raises issues about utilization of a measurement scale developed in Western cultures, which may not directly accord with cultural values of an Eastern ethnicity. Conclusions: Aspects of belongingness in Malaysian nurses reflect those of nurses elsewhere. However, there are specific cultural influences at play. Therefore, development of a measurement scale based on Eastern culture would help in increasing understanding of workplace practices among these groups. Implications for nursing and health policy: Workplaces that perpetuate an environment that is not conducive to generating a sense of belonging may have an untoward impact on care delivery. Healthcare policies need to ensure patient care has a focus on engaging practitioners within multidisciplinary teams.