The recent interest in the issue of domestic abuse has highlighted its adverse impact upon womens' health, together with the need to improve health care responses. Whilst this has implications across health services, the raised awareness of domestic abuse as a health care issue is particularly important for primary care. This is not only due to the nature of primary care contact with women experiencing domestic abuse, but also because the current modernization of primary care, which includes organizational change, enhanced public health, increased partnership working and new forms of service delivery, provides an ideal opportunity to improve the services which are delivered to women experiencing domestic abuse. There are, however, a number of challenges to achieving real changes in practice. These include the complexities of domestic abuse which will always be competing with other clinical priorities, as well as the complexities of primary care which crosses a number of organizational and professional boundaries. Moreover, whilst the recognition that domestic abuse is a health care issue is to be welcomed, concerns relating to the medicalization and professionalization of what is essentially a social problem are highlighted.