BACKGROUND: Although the number of people in nursing homes has risen substantially in recent years, the shift of responsibility into general practice has rarely been accompanied by extra resources. These patients may be associated with a higher general practitioner (GP) workload than others of similar age and sex. AIM: To assess the GP workload associated with nursing home residents and its associated costs. METHOD: All nursing home residents aged over 65 years and registered with nine Nottinghamshire practices during one year were matched with patients living in the community for general practice, age, and sex. Data were collected retrospectively for both groups on key workload measures. Costs for the workload measures were calculated using published estimates. RESULTS: Data were collected for 270 pairs of patients. Nursing home patients had more face-to-face contacts in normal surgery hours, telephone calls, and out-of-hours visits. The mean workload cost per month of a nursing home patient (assuming that one patient was seen per visit) was estimated to be 18.21 Pounds (10.49 Pounds higher than the cost of controls). A sensitivity analysis demonstrated that potential savings in visiting costs associated with increasing the numbers of patients seen per visit were 27% for one extra patient seen per visit and 44% for four extra patients. CONCLUSION: Nursing home residents were associated with higher workload for GPs than other patients of the same age and sex living in the community. Our costings provide a basis for negotiating suitable reimbursement of GPs for their additional work.