The Australian and Malaysian systems of general practice were examined and compared. The issues of similarity and difference identified are discussed in this paper. Quality clinical practice and the importance of compulsory vocational training prior to entry into general practice and continuing professional development is one important area. A move towards preventive health care and chronic disease management was observed in both countries. Practice incentive programmes to support such initiatives as improved rates of immunisation and cervical smear testing and the implementation of information technology and information management systems need careful implementation. The Medicare system used in Australia may not be appropriate for general practitioners in Malaysia and, if used, a pharmaceutical benefit scheme would also need to be established. In both countries the corporatisation of medical practice is causing concern for the medical profession. Rural and aboriginal health issues remain important in both countries. Graduate medical student entry is an attractive option but workforce requirements mean that medical education will need individual tailoring for each country. Incorporating nurses into primary health care may provide benefits such as cost savings. The integration model of community centres in Malaysia involving doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, in a single location deserves further examination.