One hundred seventy-eight graduates from four primary care residency training programs with common hospital sites (medicine/pediatrics, 72; family medicine, 29; pediatrics, 35; and internal medicine, 42) responded to a mailed survey questionnaire regarding distribution of professional time and self-perceived clinical competencies. Most of the internists, family physicians, and internist/pediatricians (MED/PED) were in primary care, and 57% of the pediatricians were subspecialists. Respondents rated each of 24 clinical vignettes as to their level of comfort in managing the patient problems presented. MED/PED and pediatricians responded similarly to all the infant, child, and adolescent cases. Family physicians were less comfortable in managing the complicated neonatal situations but more comfortable with adolescent health care than the MED/PED or pediatricians. MED/ PED reported greater comfort than family physicians in complex internal medicine issues, but less than internists in intensive care and geriatric consultation. Significant differences in reported competency existed among these primary care practitioners despite substantially overlapping training backgrounds.