INTRODUCTION: General practice is a subject with a relatively short scientific tradition. The purpose of this study was to elucidate who gives long-cycle general practice research supervision in Denmark, who is supervised and how research students get on. MATERIALS AND METHODS: All research students with research advisers in the field of general practice filled out a questionnaire in 1997 (n = 50) and 2003 (n = 52). There were questions about project/research training, professional education, advisers and the students' attitude to taking on advisory functions in the future. In 2003, 48 of those from the 1997 cohort also answered a follow-up questionnaire. RESULTS: The number of research students with a connection to the general practice research field was fairly constant from 1997 to 2003. The number of permanently employed general practice advisers, on the other hand, has doubled, and these now undertake more of the advisory functions. The great majority of research students complete their projects, most of them at PhD level. Most of the research students surveyed indicated that they are prepared to take on advisory functions when they have acquired the competence to do so. DISCUSSION: The general practice research students vary greatly with regard to age, interests and career paths, but almost all complete their research studies. This may be due to the flexible framework for research in general practice and the increase in recent years of advisory capacity in general practice. This positive development is expected to continue through the development of networks, course activities and continuing follow-up of the advisory functions.