A postal questionnaire was circulated to 90 receptionists working in general practices in a single health unit and produced an 80 per cent usable return rate. The questions asked included items relating to their work and training. Over half the respondents gave advice to patients on medicine matters for which they were not trained. Deciding upon the urgency of home and surgery appointments were the two tasks which were most disliked by the receptionists. Receptionists thought patients would find them helpful and few receptionists found patients aggressive. Many receptionists agreed that they should have training before they start work and even more agreed that they needed in-service training.