In a national survey of family medicine university units and residencies, 549 MD and 135 PhD faculty pursuing family medicine research were identified. Resources available for research were assessed, as were practice data system characteristics. The practice base nationally of programs pursuing research included 2.6 million patients from 1 million families, making 5.1 million visits per year. Common major impediments to research reported by programs included lack of faculty time (78%), lack of funding for faculty (61%) or staff, equipment and supplies (48%), and lack of research skill (45%) and role models (43%). The annual amount of all research grants received for calendar year 1979 was $3.4 million, of which $2.6 million was from federal government sources. This represented 0.06% of the federal health research effort. Continued development of family medicine research will require increased funding support both for research and research training.