BACKGROUND: In the region of Västra Götaland in Sweden, prescribing guidelines, drawn up by 24 expert groups and determined by the regional board for drugs, are since 2006 available in the form of an annually published booklet. This study investigates, for the first time, the use of and attitudes towards this publication. METHODS: A questionnaire was administered to doctors working in primary health care in the region of Västra Götaland in Sweden. Questions included characteristics of the responding doctor and use of the prescribing guidelines booklet, as well as attitude questions constructed as statements to which the responder should grade his level of agreement from 1 (total disagreement) to 6 (total agreement). RESULTS: Totally 603 filled-in questionnaires were returned (estimated response rate 60%). The majority of the doctors (n = 571, 97%) responded that they use the prescribing guidelines booklet, and when prescribing a drug for a new diagnosis, a drug from the booklet is chosen in most cases [median (25th - 75th percentile) 80 (75-90)]. However, at renewal of a drug prescription, active change to a drug from the prescribing guidelines booklet occurs less often [median (25th - 75th percentile) 50 (20-70)]. The booklet also includes short therapy advice sections, which 231 doctors (42%) use every day and 191 (34%) use every week. The attitudes towards the prescribing guidelines booklet were generally positive. Doctors in privately run primary health care units and doctors running their own business were generally more negative and judged themselves to be less adherent to the prescribing guidelines booklet compared with doctors in publicly run primary health care units. CONCLUSION: The prescribing guidelines booklet is frequently used and is generally appreciated, though differences exist between subgroups of users.