BACKGROUND: Teenagers have often been asked for their opinions about health services. However, relatively few studies have involved quantitative and qualitative methods of assessing them. Furthermore, there have been no United Kingdom studies of providers' views on the health of teenagers or of providers' opinions about their role in teenage health. AIM: To determine how teenagers view primary care, to discover how primary care providers view teenage patients, and to note any differences in opinions between the two groups. DESIGN OF STUDY: Questionnaire survey, focus group discussions, and semi-structured interviews. SETTING: Two thousand two hundred and sixty-five teenage patients, 16 general practitioners (GPs), 12 practice nurses, and 12 general practice receptionists in South Wales valley communities. METHOD: Selected practices provided age-sex registers of patients aged between 14 and 18 years and questionnaires were sent to these patients. Focus groups were assembled from those teenagers who had completed and returned the questionnaire. Semi-structured interviews between one member of the study team and GP surgery staff, chosen randomly from staff lists in the selected surgeries. RESULTS: The teenagers reported a lack of knowledge of services available from primary care, a feeling of a lack of respect for teenage health concerns, poor communication skills in GPs, and a poor understanding of confidentiality issues. The providers did not always share these concerns and they also had differing views on communication and confidentiality issues. CONCLUSION: The data demonstrated important findings about how teenagers would like primary care services to be improved. There was an apparent gulf between teenagers' own opinions about health care and the opinions held by primary care providers.