Modern diabetes management emphasizes the early detection and prompt treatment of diabetic complications. However it is difficult to organize comprehensive screening at the primary care level. To address this problem we established a complication assessment service whereby all the major diabetes-specific complications were assessed in a single 3 h visit. A report with results and recommendations was sent to the general practitioner (GP). Being philosophically a complication-specific service, no attempt was made to intervene with metabolic management. This paper describes our experience with the first 743 patients of whom 92% had been referred from GPs. Of the diabetes-specific complications, 22% of patients had one, 5% had two, and 1% had three major complications. Many of the patients were unaware of the presence of these complications. One hundred and three people had attended the service on more than one occasion with an average time between visits of 1.7 years. The results demonstrated that GPs were very good at following a recommendation to refer a patient for ophthalmic assessment (85% of cases) and improving hypertension but were less successful in treating hyperlipidaemia. This service has proven to be an excellent forum for the collection of data and the teaching of health professionals. It is a move away from the traditional format of hospital-based clinics providing comprehensive diabetes management.