BACKGROUND: General practitioners play a central role in the health care for families of children with disabilities, but may feel inadequately trained or resourced for this role. OBJECTIVE: This article highlights the important issues arising for children and their families as the child grows--from birth through to adolescence and adulthood. It also provides some key resources for the GP, patient and their family during this transition. DISCUSSION: Families need GPs to provide primary and preventive health care, and referral to and coordination of other health care services. The families of children with disabilities are no different. They need their GP to provide care to all family members and to work as a part of a health care team for children with complex needs relating to developmental disabilities.