This best practice review examines four series of common primary care questions in laboratory medicine: (i) “minor” blood platelet count and haemoglobin abnormalities; (ii) diagnosis and monitoring of anaemia caused by iron deficiency; (iii) secondary hyperlipidaemia and hypertriglyceridaemia; and (iv) glycated haemoglobin and microalbumin use in diabetes. The review is presented in question–answer format, referenced for each question series. The recommendations represent a précis of guidance found using a standardised literature search of national and international guidance notes, consensus statements, health policy documents and evidence-based medicine reviews, supplemented by Medline Embase searches to identify relevant primary research documents. They are not standards, but form a guide to be set in the clinical context. Most of the recommendations are based on consensus rather than evidence. They will be updated periodically to take account of new information.