BACKGROUND: General practitioners are critical to reducing the impact of chronic hepatitis B in the community. This study explored how GPs understand their role in chronic hepatitis B management. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were held with 26 GPs from five Australian jurisdictions. RESULTS: The principal roles identified by GPs in chronic hepatitis B management were diagnosis, monitoring and mediating between patient and specialist. General practitioners saw themselves as essential in managing chronic hepatitis B with their frequent interaction with patients, physical access and established trusting therapeutic relationships. They supported an active role in the delivery of chronic hepatitis B pharmaceutical treatment through shared care arrangements. DISCUSSION: An optimal public health response to chronic hepatitis B requires a clear definition of the role of the GP. Most GPs believed their role could be more substantive and include management and treatment beyond that of diagnosis and monitoring.