Continuing in-service medical education (CME) is a requirement for licensure of health professionals in many industrialized countries, In many developing countries opportunities for CME are limited and there is also no incentive since it is not required for continued licensure. CME is likely to be more effective if it is problem-based, targeted, involves professional societies, universities and the ministry of health, and is face-to-face. Printed materials that are unaccompanied by face-to-face interventions, have been found to be ineffective in changing prescribing behaviour. CME need not be limited only to professional medical or paramedical personnel, but may also include people in the informal sector such as medicine retailers. Often CME activities are heavily dependent on the support of pharmaceutical companies, as public funds are insufficient. This type of CME may not be unbiased. Governments should therefore support efforts by university departments and national professional associations to give independent CME.