Continuity of care in family practice cannot be adequately described merely in terms of duration. It is not delineated by the nature of a patient's illness, but involves the family physician's ongoing commitment to the patient and his family as persons. An implicit contract exists between the family physician and the patient. This kind of continuity of care provides several important elements related to patient care, such as the feasibility of long-term observations allowing effective diagnosis with less need for extensive one-time workups, the potential for psychotherapy and counseling through a continuing personal relationship, and the opportunity to perceive illness in the context of the whole person and his environment. Continuity of responsibility by the family physician is achievable despite mobility of some patients and is more a matter of the physician's attitude and style of practice than duration of the doctor-patient relationship.