The growth of ambulatory care delivery in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been accompanied by increasing interest in and need for ambulatory care research. Results from a national survey of academic general internal medicine units suggest that those that share VA and university affiliation tend to be more successful than those that are unaffiliated. The VA must strive to improve the environment for ambulatory care research. Among other things, this will entail providing adequate protected time to ambulatory care faculty and developing a uniform ambulatory care database to facilitate longitudinal, population-based research. Extended fellowships in ambulatory care and faculty development programs for existing staff will be required to create a core of competent investigators. The VA must also provide increased funding to the Health Services Research and Development and Cooperative Studies programs. Special funding programs targeted to key areas such as quality assurance, medical education, and direct patient care should be established. In addition, the VA should seek to develop joint ventures with other funding agencies for innovative ambulatory care initiatives.