Age-specific incidences for upper respiratory tract infections in children from a new-town population during 1975-7 were studied, and 965 consecutive upper respiratory tract infections in children aged under 10 during two winters were analysed in detail. Significantly different management plans made by seven doctors did not correlate with the clinical outcome as judged by complications, recall rates, and demand for treatment for similar episodes in the future. Two hundred and thirty-two children (24%) returned for another consultation for the same episode of upper respiratory tract infection. The main reason for these repeat consultations seemed to be that parental expectations about the natural history of the illness were not fulfilled. More realistic parental expectations might be set and safer clinical standards maintained if doctors warned parents about symptoms such as cough and occasional diarrhoea or vomiting that are commonly associated with upper respiratory tract infections in children.