A survey regarding the management of rational pharmacotherapy was conducted among all Dutch general hospitals in 1998. The response was 99% (n = 120). The presence of a drugs and therapeutics committee and antibiotic policies in Dutch general hospitals appears independent of hospital characteristics. However, formulary agreements and treatment guidelines are less likely to be present in hospitals that employ only 1 pharmacist or those served by community pharmacies. More than half of the hospitals claim to have restrictive formulary agreements. Large hospitals, hospitals in the eastern and southern provinces and those served by hospital pharmacies more often tend to have restrictive agreements compared to small hospitals, hospitals in the northern, central, and western provinces, and those served by community pharmacies. Various methods to impose restriction and ensure formulary compliance are mentioned. It must be noted that hospitals tend to operate rather solely regarding the large number of different formularies. Surprisingly just a small majority of pharmacists evaluates formulary agreements positively as a management tool. Many drawbacks appear to be present. The results of this survey indicate that in the future Dutch hospitals will favour disease management (treatment guidelines) over drug management (formulary agreements) in the management of rational pharmacotherapy and that information technology will be used to influence clinicians' prescribing behaviour.