To describe general practitioners' current beliefs, knowledge and self-reported practices in prostate cancer screening, we conducted a national survey of 1,271 general practitioners, obtaining 855 completed questionnaires (67% response rate). Available tests for prostate cancer screening, namely DRE and PSA alone and in combination, were indicated to be effective by 49%, 43% and 68% of respondents respectively, with older GPs significantly more likely to hold these views. The effect of guidelines was mixed. Less than 8% of respondents indicated they did not recommend screening. Although the majority of GPs were unlikely to adopt an opportunistic approach to prostate cancer screening, 63%, 57% and 46% indicated they would recommend DRE, PSA or both respectively during a dedicated health check up. Awareness of relevant guidelines was low, with nearly half of respondents unable to recall publications from the RACGP or ACS. Counter-intuitively, awareness of ACS guidelines for prostate cancer screening (which advise against screening) was significantly associated with the converse behaviour. Findings from this first national study behove proactive and highly targeted dissemination in general practice of the AHTAC policy announced by the Commonwealth Health Minister in August 1996.