By 1988, all Norwegian municipalities were to have established "basic groups", i.e. interprofessional groups to guide patients in their vocational rehabilitation process. The work of these "basic groups" has been evaluated, both in terms of patients admitted for group discussions, type of actions taken and the work status of the patients one year later. The material consists of all patients admitted for basic group discussions in eight municipalities over a three months' period in the autumn 1988 (n = 261). In general the educational level of the patients was found to be low and their most common complaint was musculoskeletal/connective tissue diseases. The most frequent action suggested by the basic groups was continued medical attention. Only 11% of the patients actually attended the meeting where their situation was discussed. After a follow-up period of one year one fifth of the patients were back at their normal job, and one fourth were receiving a disability pension. Good motivation was regarded as the most important factor influencing whether the patients returned to work.