This article contributes to historical research on medical care in the GDR by using patients' written petitions to the Central Committee of the Socialist Party submitted in the 1980s. It investigates how patients experienced everyday medical care in the GDR beyond the ideals of official health policy. What were their experiences with doctors and nurses and what possibilities for managing conflicts did sick and needy people have? Starting with a critical consideration of sources and some remarks about the culture of petitioning in GDR society, the article provides insight into the lives of patients in the late GDR. An analysis of medical petitions reveals individual ways of coping with disease and indicates that patients made particular demands of the socialist state and its health system. Patients articulated their expectations quite critically, using characteristic patterns of argumentation and, at times, successfully exerting pressure on the regime to answer their demands.