To improve the continuing education system, a group of dentists who had made little use of continuing education courses offered by the Finnish Dental Society was identified, and their opinions were mapped out and compared with those of dentists who had taken part in the systematic continuing education program. A pretested questionnaire was sent to these respective groups of 725 and 533 dentists, giving 82% and 72% return rates. A fifth of the dentists in service had never made use of the continuing education courses. Compared with all working 30-65-year-old dentists, male dentists, dentists under 35, and dentists working in rural area were over-represented in the group that had taken little part in continuing education. The dentists who had participated in systematic continuing education had also taken part in education organized by others twice as frequently as the control group. Both survey groups reported that they regularly read two professional periodicals on the average. There were only minor differences in the answers of the two groups as to whether they would be interested in participating in courses free of charge. The need for continuing education in orthodontics dominated among employed dentists, whereas self-employed dentists most frequently perceived a need in prosthodontics. Continuing education was generally considered necessary and useful but somewhat expensive.