We studied maritime telemedicine and its potential for improvement. Twenty-four people representing 13 different shipping companies and maritime public authorities were interviewed. They covered all areas of the Norwegian maritime sector except for offshore installations. The morbidity pattern reported differed between the groups: on cruise liners and ferries the major problems were due to coronary heart disease, while on merchant ships, navy vessels and in the fishing fleet the major problems were accidents. Voice and fax systems were available in all cases. However, the Emergency Medical Dispatch Centres did not offer an email service and did not use faxes in the maritime setting. Radio Medico Norway was the only assistance provider offering two-way transfer of digital pictures. The interviewees suggested a number of areas for improvement; these included having a single emergency telephone number to call for help, email systems with the possibility of digital picture attachments, wireless communication systems on board and a standard CD-ROM reference work for medical guidance/education.