Abstract In this article the main areas of conflict between the medical and the pharmaceutical professions in Belgium in the 19th century are outlined. The medical profession was dominant in the division of labour and the pharmacists were not allowed to threaten its position. However, pharmacists were also able to achieve their objectives ‐ geographical expansion of their officially recognized monopoly and the safeguarding of the pharmacist's key role in the dispensing of drugs, including proprietary drugs. They also managed to push the less qualified druggists out of the officially recognized division of labour in medicine. Copyright