Aims and objectives: To explore nurse–patient interactions in relation to the mobilisation of nonsedated and awake, mechanically ventilated patients in the intensive care unit. Background: Lighter sedation has enabled the early mobilisation of mechanically ventilated patients, but little is known about the nurses' role and interaction with critically ill patients in relation to mobilisation. Design and methods: The study had a qualitative design using an ethnographic approach within the methodology of interpretive description. Data were generated in two intensive care units in Denmark, where a strategy of no sedation was applied. Participant observation was conducted during 58 nurse–patient interactions in relation to mobilisation between nurses (n = 44) and mechanically ventilated patients (n = 25). We conducted interviews with nurses (n = 16) and patients (n = 13) who had been mechanically ventilated for at least 3 days. The data were analysed using inductive, thematic analysis. The report of the study adhered to the COREQ checklist. Finding: We identified three themes: “Diverging perspectives on mobilisation” showed that nurses had a long-term and treatment-oriented perspective on mobilisation, while patients had a short-term perspective and regarded mobilisation as overwhelming in their present situation. “Negotiation about mobilisation” demonstrated how patients actively negotiated the terms of mobilisation with the nurse. “Inducing hope through mobilisation” captured how nurses encouraged mobilisation by integrating aspects of the patient's daily life as a way to instil hope for the future. Conclusions: Exploring the nurse–patient interactions illustrated that mobilisation is more than physical activity. Mobilisation is accomplished through nurse–patient collaborations as a negotiated, complex and meaningful achievement, which is driven by the logic of care, leading to hope for the future. Relevance to clinical practice: The study demonstrated the important role of nurses in achieving mobilisation in collaboration and through negotiation with mechanically ventilated patients in the intensive care unit.