A community approach to cardiovascular disease control is advocated for the United States because of the high disease incidence and prevalence relative to other countries. The goal of this approach is to change nutrition behavior of all members of the community. As part of a program to identify barriers to physician participation, a survey of a random sample of family practice clinical faculty in a midwestern state was made to determine (a) if physicians agree that it is appropriate to give nutritional advice to a patient who came to the clinic for another reason, (b) the proportion of patients given nutritional advice, and (c) the barriers to giving nutritional advice. Most physicians report that giving nutritional advice to patients visiting them for other reasons is considered appropriate, but almost half the physicians give advice about dietary fat, dietary sodium, or dietary fiber to fewer than 20% of their patients. Only about 10% of physicians give advice to more than 80% of their patients. Absence of elevated risk factor levels or nutritional disease is the most common reason for not giving advice. Perceived lack of patient interest and expectation of patient nonadherence are also barriers. Unpalatability of the diet is occasionally a barrier. Cost of the diet is not a consideration. From these data it is concluded that family physicians consider it appropriate to give nutritional advice to patients who are not necessarily seeking it, but the perception that patients do not need or want, and would not follow, the advice inhibits physicians from delivering nutrition messages in private practice.