Background. An intensive 3-day training programme, the 'Registrar Research Workshop' (RRW), has aimed to build research capacity among Australian general practice registrars since 1994.Objectives. To investigate the impact of the RRW on participants' skills, confidence, interest in research and research activity.Methods. Cross-sectional postal survey in 2006 of five groups of registrars who participated in the annual workshop in 2002-2006 (response rate: 64%; 77 of 121). Outcome measures included research experience and skills prior to and after the workshop; impact of the workshop on capacity, confidence, attitude and interest in research; and research involvement as measured by publications and grant funding.Results. Self-reported research skills increased over time for the whole group (two-way analysis of variance: P = 0.047), most significantly for registrars with little or no research experience (P < 0.001) and research project participants (P = 0.003). The impact of the workshop on capacity, confidence and interest in research was rated highly (mean 3.5-4.0 +/- 0.1 on a five-point scale). Two-thirds of the survey respondents had been research active, 34% presented their findings at conferences, 25% published in peer-reviewed journals and 31% received research funding. Eighty-four per cent of respondents indicated a high interest in undertaking research in the future. All survey respondents recommended the workshop to other registrars.Conclusions. The RRW provides a useful model for effective research training for interested general practice trainees. Such training has the potential to increase knowledge of research methods, which might augment future research activity in general practice.