A questionnaire was sent to those practices known by the Royal College of General Practitioners to have produced annual reports. Practices were asked what data they included, to whom the report was circulated, what problems and benefits they encountered, and their opinion of the government's proposal to encourage such reports. The data most frequently included in reports related to practice workload, and the main benefit which respondents mentioned was facilitation of planning within the practice. Few practices used data derived from outside the practice and several commented on the difficulty of obtaining good quality data from the practice. Although annual reports are useful as internal documents, standardization of definitions and format, with support from family practitioner committees and health authorities is essential if more practices are to be encouraged to produce such documents and if the information obtained from them is to have a broader role in planning for primary health care.