Primary care research networks were established in Scotland to encourage research in primary care and build capacity. The aim of this descriptive study was to evaluate the primary care research network in Dumfries and Galloway, a rural area of Scotland, by describing the methods used and the outcomes in terms of research training and completed projects. All primary care professionals working in the region were offered an initial grant to buy time for research training to develop their own research ideas. Those attending the two day research training course were encouraged to submit a protocol for funding and Local Research Ethics Committee approval. Of the 605 and 717 primary care professionals circulated in the first and second years, 23 (4%) and 11 (2%), respectively applied for a research training grant. Of these, eight completed a research project together with a further six who had previous research training. Eleven (79%) of the 14 completed projects were the subject of oral presentations and 11 were submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Only a small minority of professionals working in primary care will want to develop their own research, and this requires support, protected time and long-term mentoring. Building research capacity in primary care involves a number of activities ranging from funding academic units, to giving opportunities for non-academics to undertake research. These distinctions are important for decisions about appropriate funding and support.