British Asians make up 3% of the population. There is evidence that Asians have difficulty obtaining good quality health care, appropriate to their needs. This article examines some of this evidence, with examples of specific communities in Britain. In the past, specific health education programmes for Asians have targeted their 'special' needs such as rickets, tuberculosis and thalassaemia. In fact the population itself perceives its needs differently--improved communication, easier access to services, and more information on asthma, diabetes, ischaemic heart disease and skin disorders. It is important to appreciate that the 'Asian' community is made up of disparate groups with widely differing needs and expectations, and that each community should be considered by health service planners as unique within the context of the health authority within which they lie. Reasons for the mismatch between need and service provision are discussed in the light of the recent reforms in the National Health Service and recommendations for change are given.