Community-oriented primary care (COPC) is a variation on the primary care model, which is characterized by the complementary use of epidemiologic and primary care skills to systematically address the health care needs of a defined population. A study by the Institute of Medicine developed an operational model of COPC and examined its feasibility under differing organizational and financial arrangements. Although COPC is usually associated with publicly funded programs for underserved populations, the study demonstrated its presence in the private sector as well. However, the financial structure of the practice remains a critical factor determining the particular expression of the model. The study points to the need for data describing the marginal cost and health impact of COPC, if this promising innovation is to become an important form of primary care practice.