People with health problems deserve a service that is based on best available evidence and is possible within obtainable resources. No credible health professional could deny that sound evidence should be an integral part of clinical decision making. The demand for up to date information to inform care and treatment highlights the crucial role of research and development in the modern health service. However, within primary care, practitioners have not always been able to underpin their actions with robust research findings. In addition, the research activities within primary care are limited to a small number of 'enthusiasts'. This paper aims to analyse the literature surrounding this area, highlighting the significance of United Kingdom (UK) government reports on primary care, primary care research activities and the pursuit of evidence based practice in primary care. It shows that primary care research has been the 'poor relation' in terms of research funding and this has resulted is a dearth of high quality research results to underpin practice.