Evidence based medicine is seductive in its simplicity and few would argue with the philosophical concept. The reality of its application in primary care is rather different. It is difficult to find evidence supporting many clinical management decisions, it may be difficult to interpret evidence when it is available, and it may be difficult to apply this evidence in the consultation. Clinical decisions may be influenced at many levels through health policy, audit, protocols, and guidelines, but the individual doctor patient relationship remains at the core of general practice. Developing a culture of evidence based medicine in general practice must integrate quantitative and qualitative research, epidemiology and psychology and the skills of public health and family medicine.