Because of local concerns, general practitioner consultation rates in children living in communities close to and away from open-cast mines were compared. Information on consultations was collected on 2,442 children 1-11 years of age living in five socioeconomically matched pairs of open-cast and control communities in northern England. The data collection periods were 6 weeks each during 1996-1997 and the 52-week periods preceding these weeks. Consultations were categorized as respiratory, skin and eye conditions (possibly exacerbated by particulate matter), or other conditions. Over the 6-week periods, children in 4/5 pairs of open-cast and control communities had similar consultation rates for all conditions combined [2.7 vs. 2.4 per person-year; odds ratio (OR) = 1.1; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.96-1.3). Consultations were higher in the open-cast communities for respiratory, skin, and eye conditions (2.1 vs. 1.5 per person-year; OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.2-1.7), and respiratory conditions alone (1.5 vs. 1.1 per person-year; OR = 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2-1.8). However, increases in consultation rates in open-cast communities were generally not seen over the portions of the 52-week periods when the open-cast sites were either active or inactive.