Approximately one in three Australians or 6.8 million individuals suffer from one or more chronic diseases, the most prevalent being ischaemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive lung disease, diabetes and renal disease. Potentially avoidable hospitalizations related to chronic disease comprise 5.5% of all admissions nationally and cluster in older age groups and socioeconomically disadvantaged regions. In an effort to reduce mortality and morbidity, programmes of chronic disease management have evolved with the aim of achieving formalized, population-wide implementation of elements of the chronic care model developed by Wagner et al. Results of rigorous evaluations of such programmes suggest improved survival and/or disease control with reductions in hospitalizations and adverse clinical events. This paper aims to provide an overview of available evidence for chronic disease management programmes for practising physicians who will be increasingly invited to take an active leadership role in designing and operationalizing such programmes.