Despite the size and importance of primary health care (including general practice) within the health system, traditional research output has been relatively low, both here and overseas. General-practice and primary-care research in Australia has been criticised for the preponderance of small-scale, descriptive and survey-based studies. If we are to conduct larger-scale clinical, epidemiological and health-services research, new structures and processes are needed. The research networks set up under the first phase of the Australian Government's Primary Health Care Research, Evaluation and Development (PHCRED) Strategy have tended to focus on up-skilling, research literacy and dissemination. This is important, but for general-practice research to evolve, a new type of practice-based research network is needed. These new practice-based networks require commitment and funding from policymakers, a base in academic departments, plus active involvement from Divisions of General Practice and the practitioners themselves.