To determine the attitudes of internists and surgeons to problems in clinical information management and to the use of a computer data base, a survey of 529 internists and 487 otolaryngologists was conducted. The survey group consisted of a national distribution of academic physicians, private practitioners, and residents. Results of 296 completed questionnaires were analyzed for this report. More than one third of all responders were not satisfied with their ability to keep up with new developments; less than 10% were very satisfied. Ninety percent thought that a computer data base would improve their access to information in the literature, and 85% thought it would improve their practice of medicine. Among internists, randomized control trials (RCTs) were viewed as clearly the most useful source of data. Otolaryngologists indicated that RCTs and patient registries were both very helpful. Most physicians indicated significantly greater preference for literature summary and patient registry features over probability estimation capabilities of a computer data base. Sources of data to be incorporated into a successful data base would be different for systems designed for internists and otolaryngologists.