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BACKGROUND: Refugees and asylum seekers in Australia come from many countries. They present a significant challenge for general practice. OBJECTIVE: This article outlines the unique range of problems presented by refugee patients in general practice and some approaches to dealing with them. DISCUSSION: Refugees and asylum seekers come to Australia with a range of health problems related to their experience both overseas and in Australia. These include the physical and psychological sequelae of torture and trauma such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, as well as chronic illness. These problems need to be addressed in general practice, as should preventive care, which is often overlooked. While those on permanent or temporary visas will have access to Medicare, those on bridging visas may not.