To investigate factors influencing a resident's decision to participate in obstetrical care, a survey was undertaken of program directors and third-year residents from the 16 Michigan family practice residency programs. Responses indicated that the majority of third-year residents (55%) intended to practice obstetrics on graduation. Rural practice plans were significantly correlated with a decision to practice obstetrics, but suburban practice plans were negatively correlated. Residents who reported the presence of a good family practice obstetric role model were significantly more likely to practice obstetrics; residents deciding against obstetrical practice expressed concerns about legal liability and malpractice fees. These findings have important implications for family practice training programs if obstetrics is to remain a central part of comprehensive family care.