This paper examines the provider side of the care-home sector and focuses on managers' and owners' motivations for providing care-home services for older people, and whether those motivations changed between 1994 and 2003. There were a number of significant policy changes over that time, including an increased ‘marketisation’ of the sector, coupled with an increase in regulation. Critics of these changes argued that they could adversely affect the motivational structure of the principal provider agents. Previously altruistic or public-service motivations might turn into more self-interested concerns: ‘knights’ might become ‘knaves’. To test this proposition, data were collected across eight English local authorities using face-to-face interviews and postal questionnaires. The results indicate that, although local care-home markets underwent some major changes, individuals' motivational profiles remained relatively stable. Further analysis of the relationship between motivations and the social-care market environment suggests that, while voluntary-sector providers are primarily driven by caring motivations and less concerned with income maximising and professional development, private-sector home manager and owners seemed to be more focused on the financial aspects of providing care services, professional motivations, and on their independence in running a care home. The policy implications of these findings are discussed.