OBJECTIVE: This study investigates the education and training needs of health professionals and factors affecting participation in education and training. METHODS: A survey of health promotion professionals, health professionals, GPs and CEOs of community health centres, conducted across different settings and locations. Information was obtained on: involvement in health promotion activities, most useful content and format of past training, current preferences for education and training and barriers and incentives to education and training. RESULTS: Health promotion professionals were involved in the widest variety of health promotion activities, including more evaluation, research and planning than GPs and other health professionals who were involved in more client-focussed activities. Professionals' preference for training content reflected the type of activities in which they were most frequently involved. Practical courses, of short duration, delivered by experienced peers or health promotion experts were preferred over university and TAFE courses. Professionals in rural and provincial locations require both greater access to information on training and conveniently located training. More organisational support, funding and time release would encourage the training of professionals in government departments, community health centres and public hospitals. CONCLUSIONS: To be most effective, training must be tailored to suit the specific needs of different professionals involved in health promotion and take into consideration how factors, such as financial incentives and time release, influence participation across different settings and locations. IMPLICATIONS: Further development of the health promotion workforce will require recognition of its professional diversity and a more responsive and organised approach to education and training programs.