OBJECTIVE: To explore family physicians' experiences and perceptions of osteoporosis and to identify their educational needs in this area. DESIGN: Qualitative study using focus groups. SETTING: Four Ontario sites: one each in Thunder Bay and Timmins, and two in Toronto, chosen to represent a range of practice sizes, populations, locations, and use of bone densitometry. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-two FPs participated in four focus groups. Physicians were identified by investigators or local contacts to provide maximum variation sampling. METHOD: Focus groups using a semistructured interview guide were audiotaped and transcribed. The constant comparative method of data analysis was used to identify key words and concepts until saturation of themes was reached. MAIN FINDINGS: Family physicians order bone densitometry and try to manage osteoporosis appropriately, but lack a rationale for testing and are confused about management. Participants' main concern was clinical management, followed by disease prevention and their educational needs. CONCLUSION: Family physicians are confused about how to manage osteoporosis. To reduce the burden of illness due to osteoporosis, educational interventions should be tailored to family physicians' needs.