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Aim To use a learning organisation diagnostic tool to ascertain the organisational culture of general practices. Setting General practice. Subjects Medium and large-sized general practices in the North Tees Primary Care Trust (PCT). Method A questionnaire was developed to gauge staff perceptions of the extent to which their employing practice reflected eight characteristics of a learning organisation. The 40-item, indexed Likert scale questionnaire was completed by the practice-employed staff of 15 participating practices. Results There were high levels of practice (93.8%) and staff (85.5%) participation in the study. The areas identified as least well developed among participating practices were: fostering understanding of others' roles; developing pluripotentiality and interdependence of skills; recognition and reinforcement of positive behaviour; seeking and valuing feedback from staff; development of shared values and goals; releasing the creative potential of staff; and learning from and working through conflict in the team. Conclusion Measurement of organisational culture within general practices is possible and is able to identify priorities for change in practices seeking to develop as learning organisations.