In order to obtain a proper knowledge base in primary care, a form of electronic patient record is needed that takes into account the specific characteristics of the doctor-patient encounter, the patient population, the presentation of diseases and the associated prevalences. However, in real life this has not happened for several reasons. For the most part, existing patient records are determined by invoicing requirements rather than by endeavours to meet the intrinsic needs of primary care. CONTENT (CONTinuous morbidity registration Epidemiologic NeTwork) is an ambitious scientific project in Germany to establish a system for adequate record keeping and analysis in primary care. Based on a classification system designed for the special situation of primary care, a scientific network is being established consisting of participating surgeries, general practitioners, computer scientists and statisticians. The project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The aims are strictly scientific and the underlying hypothesis is that the knowledge-gaining process can be accelerated by combining the experience of many, especially with respect to complex interactions of factors and the analysis of rare events. Aside from maintaining a morbidity registry, within the CONTENT framework various prospective and retrospective studies on particular epidemiological and health economic research topics will be conducted.