A joint project between general practitioners and the South Eastern Health Board resulted in the establishment of a network of computerised practices collecting morbidity data in 1998 - 1999. Five practices established age sex registers for public and private patients. The International Classification of Primary Care 2 (ICPC-2) was used to define inclusion criteria for a range of illnesses relevant to primary care and public health. Problems arose in validating and extracting data in three practices. Disease prevalence for 17 illnesses was established for two practices only. The project clearly established the problems associated with morbidity data collection in general practice which include absence of a national patient registration system, absence of a national electronic messaging standard, difficulties extracting data from practice software systems and the need for a high level of dedicated staff and resources to implement such a project.