There is a pressing need for practical interventions to support self-management of chronic illness that can be integrated with primary care, and that take into account the patient's social environment. This pilot study was conducted with low-income clients of a community health center and focused on enhancing use of social-environmental resources supportive of self-management. Twenty-eight patients having at least one chronic illness, randomized to immediate versus delayed treatment conditions, met once with a health educator to develop a self-management plan, and received one follow-up phone call and two newsletters. Significant improvements in use of community resources, minutes of physical activity, and medication adherence were obtained compared to control. Integrating brief self-management counseling with social environmental support appeared effective, although much more can be done to better link counseling to primary care practice.