Background: The benefits of providing early palliative care (EPC) are well researched. Few studies have explored the knowledge and skill used by nurses to help patients and families transition to and receive palliative care. In this study, we examine the roles and responsibilities of nurses in the provision of EPC and explore some of the barriers and facilitators they encounter as part of this complicated work. Methods: We drew on constructivist grounded theory to guide our methods and analysis. Nurses were recruited from several ambulatory care clinics in a comprehensive cancer center in Ontario, Canada. Nurses who participated in the study completed semi-structured interviews seeking to examine the roles, responsibilities, knowledge, and skills they utilized to provide EPC. Results: Ten nurse practitioners, six staff nurses, and four advanced practice nurses completed interviews for a total of 20 participants. Participants practiced in a variety of settings such as head and neck, breast, pancreatic, and hematology. The core category Brokering Palliative Care includes three subcategories: (1) Moving backwards and forward – stepping back to assess patients’ willingness to hear about EPC and then proceeding by selling the benefits of palliative to improving everyday function; (2) Addressing misconceptions and stigma – dealing with patients’ assumptions about palliative care as diminishing hope and accelerating the end of life; and (3) Advocating with the interprofessional team – bringing patient concerns forward to the team, managing interprofessional dynamics, and seeding the process of referral to EPC. Conclusions: Oncology nurses play a central role by brokering EPC for patients with serious cancers and their families. They draw on their proximity to patients, relational and communication capabilities, care coordination skills, and advocacy abilities. Brokering palliative care is conditional on nurses’ comfort level, experience, workload, and relationships with other healthcare professionals, especially oncologists. Moreover, the brokering work of nurses must be enacted within the boundaries of the nursing role and their relative position within the healthcare system.