One of the cornerstones of family practice is the development of the physician-patient relationship within the context of the consultation. Each consultation is modified both by the prior expectations of the participants and by illness-related worries held by the patient. This paper describes the development of an instrument to record the worries and expectations of patients visiting their family physicians and changes occurring as a result of the consultation. The instrument comprises a card sort composed of 26 cards, on each of which is typed a statement relating to a worry or expectation that a patient might hold. One hundred patients were asked to sort these cards before and after the consultation. The major worries of the group were about discomfort, the effects of illness on the family, the prospect of a physical examination, and about explaining the problem to the physician. Prominent expectations were for an explanation of diagnosis and treatment and a friendly and understanding manner from the physician.