The first call for applications to the NHS research and development programme on the interface between primary and secondary care was advertised in February 1994. A total of 674 outline proposals were submitted and 54 (8%) secured funding. Projects have been commissioned in 16 of the 21 priority areas and around 6m pounds has been committed. Analysis shows that multidisciplinary applications are more likely to be funded and that the odds for a successful application are on average nearly doubled for each discipline represented up to five. A survey of applicants and peer reviewers found satisfaction with much of the commissioning process, but peer review and feedback were subject to criticism, particularly by unsuccessful applicants. The programme shows that it is possible to commission a large number of projects in an innovative area of research and development and has identified refinements that will further increase the efficiency and acceptability of the process.