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This paper reviews evidence from recent research on the effects of different methods of remunerating general practitioners. Each method is examined in terms of patient use of health services in general, use of services by different groups in society and health outcome. Little is known about the effects of capitation as it currently exists in the UK, salaries or special payments for 'good practice', although evidence from British research is likely to be forthcoming on the last of these. Both health maintenance organizations and charges deter utilization, although little is known about the effect of this reduced demand. Furthermore, these two methods of financing health care appear to discriminate between members of society on lower and higher incomes in terms of both service use and health outcome. Fees for items of service provided tend to lead to unnecessary demands for fee yielding services by patients on the recommendation of their doctors. Although more evidence on different methods of remuneration is required, the importance of what is already known depends on the objectives of health care provision.