A descriptive study was designed to gain an understanding of the research needs, perceptions of barriers to research utilization, and attitudes towards systematic reviews of decision-makers in public health at the level of systems planning. Public-health consultants and managers in Ontario were surveyed about barriers to research utilization and awareness of and attitudes towards systematic reviews as a method of/vehicle for research transfer. Access to 5 completed reviews was provided in summary, abstract, and full form, and on diskette, hard copy, and Internet. A follow-up survey at 3 months assessed use, relevance, application, and further dissemination of the reviews. A total of 242 people in positions of public-health policy and decision-making participated. Respondents reported a great, largely unmet, need for research evidence. They viewed systematic reviews as likely to overcome the barriers to research use related to critical appraisal, time, timeliness, availability, cost and credibility, but not the barriers related to policy climate, authority, or implementation resources. Three months after requesting a review, 93% said they would follow it up; 91% remembered receiving it, and 71% of these had read it while 23% stated it played a part in program planning or decision-making.