Factors which influence the prescribing of sugar-free medicines by 47 general medical practitioners were examined by means of questionnaire. The doctors all practise in the Newry and Mourne district of the Southern Health and Social Services Board, Northern Ireland. Twenty-six (55%) of the doctors stated that they support the principle of prescribing sugar-free medicines for children; the same number stated that they oblige parental requests and 14 (30%) stated that they frequently prescribe a common group of sugar-free medicines. However, only 14 (30%) of the doctors considered that their knowledge of sugar-free medicines was up-to-date. The main sources of information about sugar-free preparations were drug company travelling representatives and professional journals, but a few doctors learned of this issue from other professionals, including dental practitioners. The majority of doctors (especially those with a practice policy of prescribing sugar-free medicines) felt it was important to prescribe sugar-free preparations for all children, not only for those requiring long-term medication. The results show that there is a reasonable level of interest in this issue among the doctors in the area, but that there is an on-going need for further encouragement and provision of information for them, in order to increase as far as possible the use of sugar-free preparations for children.