The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic and therapeutic approach to urinary tract infections (UTIs) by primary care physicians, in Samsun, Turkey. Data were obtained from the records of 2083 visits at eight primary care areas. Trained research students were stationed on site at each of the eight primary care centres between I June, 1999 and I July, 1999. Patients who had acute cystitis, recurrent UTIs, acute pyelonephritis and acute urethritis were included in the study. A total of 2083 office visits were recorded and 419 (20.1%) of the patients had UTIs and acute urethritis. Antibiotics were prescribed for 94.7% of the patients with UTIs and urethritis. Some 74% of prescriptions were consistent with current recommendation, but only 41% of the antibiotic prescriptions were rational according to dosage, dosage interval and duration of therapy. Urinary antiseptic agents were prescribed to 75% of patients with UTIs. These data indicate that polypharmacy is widespread in our region; primary care physicians need to review their knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment of UTIs and acute urethritis. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. and International Society of Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.