Few general practitioners have extensive daytime telephone contacts with patients. Forty nine general practitioners responding to a postal survey who reported handling a mean of nine or more calls a day were interviewed about their experiences. The nature of telephone contacts with patients and the organizational strategies employed to minimize disruption to surgeries were explored. Views on the rewards and frustrations of being accessible by telephone and its impact on other aspects of workload were also sought. Recommendations are made for practices contemplating extending telephone access for patients.