Recently, some health economists have re-examined the nature of the agency relationship in health care. This paper presents a study conducted to establish the relative value to patients of various attributes of the general practice consultation. In the sample of patients recruited, the most important attribute was 'being able to talk to the doctor', whilst 'who chooses your treatment' was the least important. Although patients preferred more information to less, only females and highly qualified respondents preferred to choose the treatment themselves. The results of this study have implications for the education of doctors in communication skills and for further research into the agency relationship in health care.