The study used a randomised controlled trial to find out whether supporting letters from general practitioners accompanying the invitations from a screening centre affected participation in a population-based breast cancer screening program for women aged 50 to 64. A further randomised controlled trial compared the effect of postal reminders with telephone reminders for women who did not respond to an initial invitation to participate in the program. There were 482 women in the first trial and 641 in the second. Excluding women who were ineligible or could not be contacted, participation in screening was 71 per cent in the group which received letters from their general practitioners compared with 62 per cent in the group which did not receive letters (P = 0.059). In the group that received letters, 56 per cent were screened without a reminder compared with 43 per cent of the group that did not receive letters (P = 0.01). Fewer women who received letters from their general practitioners declined the invitation to be screened (P = 0.048). In the second trial, there was no difference in participation between the group receiving telephone reminders and the group receiving postal reminders. As in breast cancer screening programs in other countries, general practitioner endorsement of invitations increased participation in breast cancer screening. Postal reminders were as effective as telephone reminders in encouraging women who did not respond to an initial invitation to participate in screening.