Aims: To assess the relation between violence prevention policies and work related assault. Methods: From Phase 1 of the Minnesota Nurses' Study, a population based survey of 6300 Minnesota nurses (response 79%), 13.2% reported experiencing work related physical assault in the past year. In Phase 2, a case-control study, 1900 nurses (response 75%) were questioned about exposures relevant to violence, including eight work related violence prevention policy items. A comprehensive causal model served as a basis for survey design, analyses, and interpretation. Sensitivity analyses were conducted for potential exposure misclassification and the presence of an unmeasured confounder. Results: Results of multiple regression analyses, controlling for appropriate factors, indicated that the odds of physical assault decreased for having a zero tolerance policy (OR = 0.5, 95% CI 0.4 to 0.8) and having policies regarding types of prohibited violent behaviours (OR = 0.5, 95% CI 0.3 to 0.9). Analyses adjusted for non-response and non-selection resulted in wider confidence intervals, but no substantial change in effect estimates. Conclusions: It appears that some work related violence policies may be protective for the population of Minnesota nurses.