Current government strategy emphasizes the importance of widening access to health service to better serve the users of the system. There is also burgeoning empirical evidence in decision-making in health care. Yet despite this, little attention has been given to the decision-making of a key group of workers--general practice receptionists. Drawing on a larger study with general practitioners, nurse practitioners, patients and receptionists, this qualitative study explores the decision-making of 15 general practice receptionists in the same number of general practices, in a variety of locations. The study documents how patients are categorized by the receptionist and the control strategies used in processing patients to access general practitioners or nurse practitioners. Implications for practice are highlighted.