Nurses and their labor are essential to the provision of health care. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the flagship institution of postwar British welfare, the National Health Service. When it launched in 1948, a shortage of thirty-five thousand nurses endangered its future. This article examines the National Health Service's nursing shortage and its most enduring solution: the recruitment of Caribbean and African nursing staff for struggling British hospitals. It follows the manner in which British civil servants, hospital administrators, and nursing leaders came to recruit nurses from the colonies and the deep ambivalence that marked their project. What began as a reformulated colonial development project gave rise to a sprawling and unregulated market for nursing labor that powered the National Health Service for decades. The so-called dark stranger, deemed unworthy of membership in the national community, in fact carried out its most intimate work—caring for the bodies of sick white citizens.