Background Improving postgraduate medical training is one important step to attract more medical students into general practice. Keeping pace with international developments moving to competence-based curricula for general practice training, the aim of this project was to develop and implement such a curriculum in Germany. Methods A five-step, peer-based method was used for the curriculum development process including panel testing and a “test version” of the curriculum for the pilot implementation phase. The CanMEDS framework served as a basis for a new German competence-based curriculum in general practice training. Four curricula from European countries and Canada were reviewed and, following required cultural adaptions, key strengths from these were integrated. For the CanMEDS “medical expertise” element of the curriculum, the WONCA ICPC-2 classification of patient’s “reason for encounters” was also integrated. Results Altogether, 37 participants were involved in the development process representing 12 different federal states in Germany, and including an expert advisor from Denmark. An official “test version” of the curriculum consisting of three parts: medical expertise, additional competencies and medical procedures was established. A system of self-assessment for trainees was integrated into the curriculum using a traffic light scale. Since March 2012, the curriculum has been made freely available online as a “test version”. In 2014, an evaluation is planned using feedback from users of the test model as a further stage of the implementation process. Conclusions The first German competence-based curriculum for general practice training has been developed using a pragmatic peer controlled approach and implementation is being trialed with a “test version” of the curriculum. This model project and its peer-based methodology may support competence-based curriculum development for other medical specialties both inside and outside Germany.