The burden of respiratory infections is mainly seen in primary healthcare. To evaluate the potential impact of new preventive strategies against respiratory infections, such as the implementation of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines for infants in 2006 in The Netherlands, we conducted a baseline retrospective cohort study of electronic primary-care patient records to assess consultation rates, comorbidities and antibiotic prescription rates for respiratory infections in primary care. We found that between 1995 and 2005, overall registered consultation rates for lower respiratory tract infections had increased by 42·4%, upper respiratory infections declined by 4·9%, and otitis media remained unchanged. Concomitantly, there was a steady rise in overall comorbidity (75·7%) and antibiotic prescription rates (67·7%). Since Dutch primary-care rates for respiratory infections changed considerably between 1995 and 2005, these changes must be taken into account to properly evaluate the effect of population-based preventive strategies on primary-care utilization.