Abstract The study identified the pattern of evolution, distribution and expansion of the undergraduate medicine courses in Brazil and described the governmental processes related to the increase in the capacity of the courses. It is a descriptive study based on data available in the system of the Brazilian Ministry of Education about medical schools. With information about the courses dating back to the first that were implemented in the country, we could establish six periods of government for the analysis: from 1808 to 1963 (from the Monarchy to the first republican governments); from 1964 to 1988 (from the military dictatorship to the government of José Sarney); From 1989 to 1994 (Fernando Collor - Itamar Franco); from 1995 to 2002 (Fernando Henrique Cardoso); from 2003 to 2010 (Lula); and from 2011 to 2018 (Dilma Rousseff - Michel Temer). We observed a significant expansion of the schools starting with the military dictatorship and peaking in 2014 (Dilma Rousseff), and the implementation of the More Doctors Program (Programa Mais Médicos, in Portuguese). Throughout the analyzed periods, the teaching of Medicine became ever more privatized, and was partially shifted to the Northern, Northeastern and Midwestern regions of Brazil, and to medium-sized and small municipalities in the countryside of the states. The results indicate that the combination of the management by the government of the health, education and socioeconomic development policies had an influence on the expansion of the Medicine undergraduate courses and the marked intra- and interregional differences.