General practice is suffering a crisis of status, as shown by financial, power and intellectual markers. This is serious as a strong general-practice workforce is important to deliver cost-effective, high-quality healthcare. We argue that strengthening the intellectual aspects of general practice (particularly critical thinking) is essential. Most strategies to achieve this centre on research, with many initiatives in Australia and overseas to enhance research by general practitioners; there is still insufficient clinical research in general practice. Other ways to improve critical thinking include promoting use of evidence-based medicine, provided it is not implemented only via "cook-book" guidelines. Other innovations are desperately needed.