Two groups of physicians (nine family physicians and nine consulting internists) were presented with three clinical problems by a programmed "patient". Analysis of the recorded interviews showed that family physicians asked fewer history questions, requested fewer items of data about physical examination, and ordered fewer laboratory investigations. In two out of the three cases family physicians asked a higher proportion of questions about mental status and life situation. In an analysis of the "commonness" of questions asked by internists and family physicians, it was found that internists were more consistent among themselves in the questions asked. There were no significant differences in the final diagnosis reached by these two groups.