The induction and mentoring of new academic staff are becoming urgent concerns because growing numbers of vacancies will appear as the 'baby-boom' generation of academics retires. New recruits will have to engage with the new, complex mandates with which higher education institutions are being charged. Evidence from a study of new academics is set alongside recent North American research into mentoring arrangements for new academics. It is suggested that, on the evidence we present, current British practice falls short of North American recommendations. However, it is claimed that whatever attention is paid to mentoring, its impact cannot be detached from the culture of the departments and teams within which academic staff work. By themselves, better mentoring arrangements cannot resolve looming problems in the induction of new academics.