The purpose of this study was to compare physicians', midwives' and lay people's attitudes towards genetic screening and testing to find out whether medical education and experience influence attitudes of genetic screening and testing. The study was based on comparison of answers to joint questions in three different cross-sectional postal surveys between October 1996 and April 1998 in Finland. Target groups were physicians (study base n=772, response rate 74%, including gynaecologists, paediatricians, general practitioners and clinical geneticists), midwives and public health nurses (collectively referred to as midwives in the following; n=800, response rate 79%), and lay people (n=2000, response rate 62%). Midwives were more worried about the consequences of genetic testing and stressed the autonomy of the customer more strongly than lay people did. Furthermore, professionals considered that lay peoples' expectations as regards to genetic testing are too high. Having more medical education was related to having less 'cannot say' and missing responses. Our results do not suggest that major conflicts about the direction of genetic testing and screening would arise in near future. However, different positions and interests should be considered. Reporting in public about new prospects and developments in medical genetics should pay more attention also to concerns for balancing promises and drawbacks.