To establish data on the patient's reasons for a contact, as a part of data on content of Icelandic family practice, a prospective practice audit was made of 16 Icelandic health centres with computerized contact data from 1 January to 31 December 1988. The study comprised 16 community health centres in Iceland and their target population, 12 rural and four urban. The reasons for contact in the study group are analysed. A total of 284348 reasons for contact were analysed; 36-39% were for symptoms and 44-50% were initiated by health professionals. The latter included renewal of prescriptions, which comprised 17-18% of all reasons for contact. Musculoskeletal symptoms were the most common symptomatic complaint, 6.6-7.3% of all reasons for contact. The five most often stated symptoms were: rash, cough, cold, lower limb symptoms, and fever. A "reason for contact" record increases the understanding of the patient's presenting complaint, as well as the patient's agenda in each contact. This record gives an opportunity to follow the presenting complaint in the continuous process of care i. e. reason for contact diagnosis, management, and follow-up. We are reminded that common things are common in family practice; nevertheless more research is needed to understand the process of care.