The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' (RACGP) 1998 Rural Quality Assurance and Continuing Education (QA & CE) Needs Assessment Project was designed to generate sufficient data to inform strategic planning for rural and remote GPs participating in the College's QA & CE Program. Results indicated that the demand for QA & CE activities has changed over the past 12 years. Three distinct streams of continuing education emerged, where once only one was researched. This reflected a move towards continuing professional development (CPD) rather than purely continuing medical education (CME). However, differences between the CME needs identified suggested that national data could not be reduced to the local level. Data on CME in which rural and remote GPs felt underserviced, proved more useful in relation to other workforce variables such as age, length of service and gender. A broad 'rural set' of CPD topics was established, and the survey yielded information on learning format preferences that will be of use to providers of QA & CE activities for rural GPs across Australia.