In this paper the thesis is advanced that the general practitioners can either be a powerful ally or a major roadblock in the development of primary health care in the spirit of the Alma-Ata Declaration. The role they will play depends on their interpretation of, and attitudes towards, the concept. In the first part of the paper, four common interpretations of primary health care (primary health care as a set of activities; as a level of care; as a strategy; and as a philosophy) are described. The second part identifies common misconceptions - traps into which the general practitioners may fall when taking their stand on primary health care. In the third part, a blueprint for transforming the current systems of primary medical care systems into primary health care systems is outlined. The final section suggests some concrete actions to be taken by the general practitioners in implementing this blueprint.