There is a dearth of literature on the involvement of general practitioners (GPs) in South Africa in early interventions to curb alcohol abuse, and since the anecdotal assumption is that GPs do not effectively diagnose and manage problem drinking amongst their patients, in this study I investigated the role of GPs in addressing problem drinking in Cape Town as well as the prevalence of problem drinking amongst their patients. GPs practicing in private settings in the city of Cape Town as well as patients served by these GPs participated in the study. A cross-sectional descriptive design was utilised and 50 GPs were randomly selected from the telephone listings of GPs in the city of Cape Town. The sample of 384 patients included all adult patients who attended GP practices on one day during the survey. GPs completed a self-administered questionnaire that addressed demographic characteristics, practice type and location as well as the GPs’ knowledge of alcohol dependence severity, their effectiveness in counselling and helping to achieve behaviour change amongst patients. The patients completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Test (AUDIT) questionnaire (Saunders et al., 1993) on one day during normal surgery hours.