There is growing emphasis on health promotion in primary care. The success of this endeavour depends in part on the ability of members of the primary health care team to provide appropriate and practical advice and support, relating to lifestyle. A study of 58 primary health care professionals was carried out in the Grampian region of Scotland to assess their nutritional knowledge and their ability to provide practical dietary advice, particularly in relation to the prevention of coronary heart disease. Overall, the primary health care workers had a broad understanding of recommendations for healthy eating, but there was some confusion over specific aspects of these recommendations. Health professionals also found it difficult to translate knowledge into practical dietary advice tailored to an individual case. If health promotion in primary care is to work effectively, the infrastructure necessary for effective training and continuing education has to be addressed.