There is a need for new approaches to supplement the existing methods of taking research from bench to bedside and from bedside to practice. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an emerging model of research that enhances ongoing clinical research by involving key stakeholders, including community members and patients. A practice-based research network (PBRN) is a group of primary care practices devoted principally not only to the primary care of patients, but also with a mission to investigate questions related to community-based practice and to improve the quality of primary care. Traditionally, PBRN research has not included patients or community members, while CBPR has excluded health providers as key stakeholders. Typical overlap topics of PBRN and CBPR research are health-care disparities, prevention, chronic disease management and mental health. The inclusion of CBPR within a PBRN has been identified as an important next step with the potential to significantly enhance the research process. This review focuses on bringing together the ideals of CBPR and PBRNs in order to tackle intractable problems such as disparities in health-care access and outcomes and translate these results into practice. Specifically, the CBPR PBRN approach can: (1) guide the research process so that studies more closely match the needs of all stakeholders (including providers, patients and community members); (2) assist in the development of the research protocol and identification of research methodologies so that the study is more amenable to participants; (3) facilitate recruitment of research participants; (4) enrich the data collection and analysis; and (5) allow rapid translation of results from the study back into clinical practice and the community. Once these mechanisms have been clearly elucidated, their widespread adoption will positively impact overall health at both a local and national level.