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Because the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased greatly over the past decade, UK general practitioners have been encouraged to develop services for people with diabetes and to offer structured diabetes care. The resultant shift from secondary care can place considerable demands on primary health care teams. Data were obtained from 108 practices in two English health districts followed up in primary and secondary care. Nearly two-thirds of the people with diabetes were being followed up only in general practice, the remainder in hospital or both. The proportion managed in primary care varied from 5.6% to 94.6%. The settings where diabetes care was most likely to be offered were training practices, practices with good nursing support, practices with a high prevalence of diabetes, and practices in which a high proportion of diabetic patients were controlled by diet or hypoglycaemic agents. Tight control of glycaemia and blood pressure is now seen as important in diabetes, and is best achieved in general practice. This survey revealed large variations in delivery of general-practice diabetes care that need to be addressed by better organization and funding.