Background: The impact factors of scientific journals are interesting but not unproblematic. It is speculated that the number of journals in which citations can be made correlates with the impact factors in any given speciality. Methods: Using the Journal Citation Report (JCR) for 1997, a bibliometric analysis was made to assess the correlation between the number of journals available in different fields of clinical medicine and the top impact factor. A detailed study was made of dermatological journals listed in the JCR 1991-2000, to assess the relevance of this general survey. Results: Using the 1997 JCR definitions of speciality journals, a significant linear correlation was found between the number of journals in a given field and the top impact factor of that field (rs = 0.612, p < 0.05). Studying the trend for dermatological journals 1991 to 2000 a similar pattern was found. Significant correlations were also found between total number of journals and mean impact factor (rs = 0.793, p = 0.006), between the total number of journals and the top impact factor (rs = 0.759, p = 0.011) and between the mean and the top impact factor (rs = 0.827, p = 0.003). Conclusions: The observations suggest that the number of journals available predict the top impact factor. For dermatology journals the top and the mean impact factor are predicted. This is in good agreement with theoretical expectations as more journals make more print-space available for more papers containing citations. It is suggested that new journals in dermatology should be encouraged, as this will most likely increase the impact factor of dermatological journals generally.