A postal survey of New Zealand general practitioners gathered information from a self-selected sample about their response to alcohol problems. Responses to a series of attitude statements measured the extent to which doctors held traditional beliefs about alcoholism as a disease, the management of which requires abstinence; emerging concepts of alcohol dependence and more moralistic attitudes. General practitioners who responded to the survey were found to be largely in sympathy with the disease concept of alcohol problems though some of the more recently emerging concepts were also widely accepted. The majority reported that they felt they did have an active role to play in connection with the alcohol problems of their patients, both in terms of treatment or advice giving, and referral to specialist agencies. Over half of the respondents requested guidelines for treatment and advice giving. Only a small proportion of general practitioners reported pessimism about their personal role in relation to their patients' alcohol problems. The results are discussed in the context of recent research evidence showing the relative efficacy of a structured advice-counseling session of the type in which general practitioners might engage.