Practice nursing has expanded rapidly since the 1990 contract for general practitioners. In 1990, a national survey was undertaken of the attitudes of a random sample of general practitioners towards practice nurses. Responses to the postal questionnaire were received from 41.9% of the 4800 general practitioners sampled. Of the responding general practitioners, 90.0% were satisfied with the role of the practice nurse within their practice. To fulfil the requirements of the 1990 contract for general practitioners 50.7% had created a new nursing post, and 83.1% had expanded the role of nurses already employed; 89.7% wished to see further expansion of the practice nurse's role. However, lack of space was the factor most frequently reported as limiting the expansion of the practice nurse's role, mentioned by 76.0% of general practitioners. Only 43.7% of general practitioners recognized lack of opportunities for practice nurse training as a hindrance to role expansion. The key to managing the expansion of the role of the practice nurse lies in the provision of resources and in training. A pressing need exists for a national training scheme based in general practice.