The 1990 contract for general practitioners in the UK offered incentives for them to organize health promotion clinics and required them to perform ‘lifestyle’ checkups of their patients every 3 years, despite uncertainty about the impact of such checks on patient health. To address this lack of appropriate evaluation, a follow-up study to assess benefits in terms of patient behaviour and health resulting from the introduction of lifestyle checkups in general practice in a sample of more than 7000 patients aged 30-70 from 18 practices in three FHSA areas (in south London, Surrey and Yorkshire) has been performed. Eighteen per cent of the random sample of patients reported having a health check in the previous year. A full health check comprising measurement of blood pressure, height and weight, urinalysis and questioning about smoking habits, alcohol consumption, exercise, diet and family illnesses had been given to 29% of respondents reporting a health check of any kind. Respondents in less privileged socioeconomic groups were more likely to have had a health check, but less likely to have had a ‘full’ check. Reactions to the checks were mainly positive; 81% regarded the check as helpful, and only 6% reported it to be worrying and 6% a waste of time. The implications for the new health promotion banding system in the UK are discussed.