Family practice has developed in direct response to the public need for primary care with the elements of comprehensiveness, continuity and accessibility. This specialty represents a re-emphasis of the generalist role in medicine, with particular concern for the family as the unit of care. Since the American Board of Family Practice was formed nine years ago, the first phase of development has been completed. Teaching programs in family medicine have been effectively established at undergraduate and graduate levels throughout the country in both university and community settings. Refinement of teaching programs and initiation of a strong ongoing research effort are now required. The continued successful evolution of family practice as a foundation of primary care in the United States is essential to extend the highest possible quality of care to the entire population at a cost that can be afforded in a society with limited resources for health care.