Videotapes of ten children with 'suspected' cerebral palsy were used as stimuli to elicit physicians' decisions regarding referral for physical therapy. Respondents were 99 developmental or general pediatricians, orthopaedists, neurologists or physiatrists who were members of the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy. They rated their belief in the value of therapy; described their experience, training and practices relating to management of cerebral palsy; and responded to cases with their assessment of severity, diagnosis and referral decision. The decision to refer was significantly related to perceived severity of the condition, diagnostic certainty, and belief in the efficacy of physical therapy. Referral rates did not vary with tendency to use physical therapy for other types of patients, nor with training, experience or self-rated expertise in cerebral palsy.