The development of philosophical medicine in the high and late Middle Ages brought with it a powerful association of medical knowledge with the written word. To possess books, or at least to have access to books, was both a prerequisite for and a symbol of the kind of theoretical learning that distinguished the learned practitioner from the empiric. This study examines evidence for women’s access to medical books, raising the question of what difference gender made. I argue that, for the most part, women did not own medical books, whether they were laywomen or religious. I suggest that this was largely due to the limits on advanced education for women, a factor that would have effected both laywomen and nuns.