There has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria worldwide. In the Scandinavian countries at least 90% of total antibiotic use relates to outpatients and therefore it has become increasingly important to know the antibiotic prescription pattern of general practitioners (GPs) in order to implement and monitor changes in antibiotic prescribing. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the prescription patterns of GPs in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. In order to achieve a reasonable comparison, a questionnaire consisting of 7 case reports concerning upper and lower respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and skin and soft tissue infections was sent to 1,000 GPs in the 3 countries. In general, the guidelines for the treatment of bacterial infections in the individual countries were followed by the responders. In all 3 countries, penicillin V was still the drug most frequently used in upper and lower respiratory tract infections. The greatest difference in prescribing patterns among the countries was seen in the treatment of urinary tract infections, recurrent pharyngeal tonsillitis, acute otitis media and acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis. There were also differences in the dosing regimens, length of treatment and use of diagnostic techniques.