The series was created and produced by the Reg Grundy Organisation and started a week earlier than the Nine Network's other soap opera, The Sullivans, which was produced by Crawford Productions. Nine Network made it clear only one of the series would be kept after 13 weeks.
After the 13-week trial period The Sullivans (which had a budget which was three times bigger than The Young Doctors) emerged as the critical success, so The Young Doctors was cancelled. Fans of The Young Doctors lobbied Channel 9, who reversed their decision. The Young Doctors continued in its 6.00 pm slot and had a successful run. After several years, many long running characters left the series and in the final season during 1982 several new cast members were added.
Producer and creator Alan Coleman also left, and was replaced by Sue Masters shortly before the series finished production in late 1982. Masters went on to produce Grundy's stablemate Prisoner from 1983; several The Young Doctors cast members, including Judy McBurney, Genevieve Lemon, Babs McMillan and Peter Bensley also went into leading roles in Prisoner after The Young Doctors finished.
The advent of one-day cricket led to Channel 9 moving the show around the schedules. These factors contributed to a decline in ratings which saw the series cancelled in late 1982. The final episode was aired in March 1983.
When the series ended after 1396 episodes, it held the record of Australia's longest-running commercial television drama serial, which was previously held by Number 96. This was later surpassed by A Country Practice and then Neighbours, which is currently the longest-running Australian drama serial.
The Young Doctors also holds the distinction, rare among long-running Australian dramas, of having never won any sort of television award.
Popular Actress Peta Toppano who appeared in the first season of Prisoner had also previously appeared in The Young Doctors for just over a year. One of the more popular cast members included Gwen Plumb, a recipient of the British Empire Medal and AM recipient for her service to the arts and communities service, who portrayed gossippy kiosk lady Ada Simmonds for the length of the series. The original cast members Lyn James who portrayed the doctors secretary Helen Gordon and Tim Page who portrays Dr. Grahame Steele, appeared to the end of the series, as did Judy McBurney as Nurse Tania Livingstone who first appeared in episode 40.
The relatively long-running serial also achieved modest international cult success, particularly in the United Kingdom, where it aired in a daytime slot on the commercial ITV network. The programme was shown regionally, meaning each region was free to show the series as and when they liked. Central Independent Television were the first ITV region to start the serial from January 1982. Most other regions gradually followed over the next few years and Yorkshire Television were the last to start in 1988. Central were the first to finish in August 1992, and Westcountry Television was the last ITV region to air Young Doctors in December 1995.