The aim of this study was to examine the antidepressant drug prescribibing preferences and habits of a population of general practitioners. The method used was that of a questionnaire survey, including case vignettes. The response rate exceeded 70%. Data are presented outlining the attitudes of the respondents to the use of antidepressant drugs in the management of common psychiatric presentations in the primary care setting. The majority of general practitioners (G.P.'s) had received little or no post-graduate education in psychiatry. The antidepressants most frequently prescribed were amitriptyline, clomipramine, trazodone and lofepramine. Despite recognition of the alarming frequency of serious self-poisoning incidents with some of these compounds, 26% of respondents confessed to an inability to make an informed choice of antidepressant drug, with 14% using the same drug with every patient with no attempt to select according to individual patient requirements. The management of depressive neurosis generates considerable clinical confusion with a variety of interventions favoured. The use of a sedating antidepressant is popular. There is greater accord for the management of endogenomorphic depression. The use of the benzodiazepine drugs in the management of anxiety disorders is infrequent, with appropriate recognition of the merits of behavioural approaches. However, the role for antidepressant drugs in the management of anxiety disorders is under-recognized. We conclude that general practitioners are required to undertake a significant body of work for which they may be inadequately trained.