Nyland returns from his vacation with Valerie to find he's been suspended and replaced as chief of trauma by Dr. Keith Wilkes. Kate comes back from New Zealand facing both kidnapping charges and a suspension. A new group of interns comes into the hospital, eager to change things. Uncertainty hangs in the air over the future of the hospital when Tommy Wilmette considers drastic cuts. Billy and Diane work in a Maasai village in Africa. Aaron and Phillip clash when Aaron becomes 'buddy buddy' with Wilmette.
Phillip travels to Wyoming to recruit Jack McNeil, an orthopedic surgeon. McNeil refuses, for reasons unknown. McNeil is haunted from memories of the Oklahoma City bombing. New Trauma chief Keith Wilkes is in hot water after he removes narcotics from a patient's intestine and flushes them. Grad returns from Africa and is offered a general practitioner position. Dr. Austin cares for her dying father. Ron Silver continues to appear.
Aaron and Dr. McNeil clash when the two have conflicting ideas for a patient's treatment. Diane struggles with the transition from animal research to treating patients when she has a needy patient. Kate is car-jacked, loses her father's ashes, and gets on Tommy's bad side again.
Dr. Watters treats a mother with a mystifying liver ailment. Nyland and Austin return to the hospital for suspension hearings. Dr. Shutt begins to fear he's attracted to his male research assistant. Dennis and McNeil treat an aspiring Olympic cyclist with pain in her knees.
Life is tough for the senior doctors, with Shutt being treated like a second class citizen in the hospital and Austin learning she's been reinstated but with a substantial pay cut, a different title, and a much smaller office. Aaron tries to develop his shunt, with input from new resident Dr. Carr. Jack treats an elderly man who tries to set McNeil's priorities straight. The hospital hires a publicist to create a promotional video, which in the end, seems vaguely familiar.
Billy returns from Africa, leaving the peaceful Maasai for America's turbulence. Billy is threatened by a 12-year-old after his drug-dealing brother, under Billy's care, dies. Austin faces the impact of her actions when she and her co-workers are sued in the Harrod death (ep #32). Aaron finds himself ill at ease about an upcoming date with physical therapist Karen Wilder.
Nyland treats an amnesiac who wanders away and is mistaken by Phillip for an old medical student. Aaron operates on a death row inmate who begs Aaron to kill him on the table, dying before the state has a chance to execute him. McNeil suspects an old girlfriend of abusing her mother.
A potentially brain-dead donor comes into the ER. With doctors from all over Chicago waiting, the body is first declared brain-dead, then after a re-examination they find he's only in a coma. The doctors bicker over what to do.
Dr. Wilkes takes flak from Dennis for not giving back to his community. Billy has a tough decision to make when a childhood friend show up at his apartment in the early morning hours with a bullet in him. Diane believes Billy's friend may have been involved in a savage beating.
Kate is faced with a dilemma when an Asian patient is diagnosed with cancer, yet her family requests the patient not be informed to save face. First year resident Underhill has his own decision when he discovers distressing news about a patient's husband. Dr. McNeil treats a jockey suffering from back pain, which leads to a personal crisis when he's tempted to re-enter the world of gambling.
Jack, re-energized by his descent into gambling, performs a daring procedure, attaching a man's left hand onto his right arm. Aaron treats a man who, after surgery, completely forgets the last ten years of his life and speaks in loving terms about his now ex-wife. Aaron loses his cool when his car is stalked by an irate man who feels Aaron personally wronged him by inadvertently parking too close to his van. Diane examines a mummy.
Dr. Wilkes copes with personal and professional problems as he tries to reach a compromise with his wife regarding an unexpected pregnancy while trying to convince a suicidal patient he pulled out of the river that a crippling operation is his only chance for life. Aaron takes revenge against a deadbeat debtor by taking his money's worth from the patient's clothing store. Dr. Austin falls for a visiting dignitary.
The trial of Hancock's brother-in-law gets underway, with Dennis still unsure of how his sister will testify. Rumors about Phillip's personal life fly through the hospital after Maggie overhears an intimate conversation. Dr. Austin tries to save one of two children, both victims of a hit and run. Dr. McNeil decides to quit gambling. Aaron screws up his courage and decides to ask Maricela on a date.
Billy and Diane are caught in the middle of a hostage situation after two revolutionaries shoot up a political convention. Dr. Kronk risks his life to treat a wounded rebel, while the other criminals grow increasingly tense.
Aaron reunites with an old friend, David, who has only a few months left to live. His friend suggests Aaron marry his wife, who married David over Aaron, after David dies. Aaron gets drunk and runs into (imagines?) Jeffrey. Wilkes doubts his wife when she claims to have had a miscarriage. Wilkes and Nyland's feud escalates after a patient dies. Jack refuses to listen to Phillip when he offers to help Jack overcome his gambling problem, but later asks Karen Wilder to help him. Aaron tries to figure out what to do about Maricela.
Kate's friend, feminist professor Marina, tries desperately to 'get pregnant' but has to work against, rather than with, her husband. Aaron works against Tommy Wilmette in an attempt to get his friend, David, approved for a controversial gene therapy treatment. Diane tries to get marijuana for an ill patient.
Phillip and Aaron present their plan to buy Chicago Hope to the staff, where it's met with resounding complaints. Aaron tries to define his relationship with Maricela. The ER treats a patient with numerous psychosomatic ailments. Kronk gets in trouble when he performs a lung reduction operation, a procedure vetoed by the patient's HMO. Billy visits the patient's HMO representative, the 'freaky' Jonathan Saunders, to straighten things out.
Aaron meets man who claims to be his real father. After learning the truth from his mother and talking to Phillip he tries to get to know the man. And at the same Phillip tries to establish contact with his son.
The whole staff comes together when Danny Nyland is horribly injured in a car accident. Austin tries to get a heart transplant for a Pulitzer Prize winning author who's already received, and abused, a heart transplant. Jack falls deeper into gambling.
Nyland, fresh off his injury leave, puts all his energy into identifying an assault victim. Billy has qualms when a patient who tested positive for the breast cancer gene asks him to perform a preventive double mastectomy. Kate tries to get Sara into an exclusive school. Diane proposes to Billy.
The hospital endures Kate's massive ego when she's followed by a newspaper reporter. Jack tries to save a dying child against the parent's explicit wishes and later falls deeply into debt. Both Billy and Diane have second thoughts about their engagement.
Watters is reunited with his Vietnam C.O. when the colonel is admitted suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Phillip is baffled by the colonel's refusal to accept treatment. Kate has her hands full when Sara is traumatized by the accidental death of a Little League teammate. Wilkes and Nyland have a role reversal, with Danny staying calm and serene and Wilkes acting the hothead, over Ricky Jackson's use of ER supplies.
Jack has his hands full with two of Karen's patients, Harriet Owens, who hasn't moved out of his house yet, and the delusional Luke Sarison, who believes McNeil is his father. Aaron and Kate vie for chief of surgery. Phillip is invited to join his latest girlfriend, Emma, when she moves to Paris. Danny Nyland is arrested for the Jessup death, and subsequently transferred from the ER to the blood bank.
Jeffrey Geiger returns, bearing the news that he's a partner in the newly formed Hope Health Care. Kate bears with Jeffrey's advice in a critical heart transplant operation. Wilkes takes a wild helicopter ride to fetch the donor heart. Dr. Kronk tries to find a solution for his Alzheimer's afflicted father. McNeil and Shutt pontificate about life and religion following a patient's claim that she was healed by a vision of the virgin mother.