To assess whether a print-based intervention led to increased contact with consumer health organisations (CHOs) by general practice patients with chronic disease. CHOs can enhance people's capacity to manage chronic illness by providing information, education and psychosocial support. However, these organisations appear to be grossly under-utilised by patients and clinicians. A total of 276 patients completed a computer-assisted telephone interview before randomisation to an intervention (n = 141) or control (n = 135) group. The intervention consisted of mailed printed materials designed to encourage contact with a CHO relevant to the patient's main diagnosed chronic condition. Follow-up interviews were conducted 4 and 12 months later. Patients with conditions other than diabetes who received the intervention were twice as likely as those in the control group to contact a consumer health organisation during the 12-month study period: 41% versus 21% (P < 0.001). No such effect was found for diabetes patients, probably because of pre-existing high levels of contact with diabetes organisations. The intervention package received strong patient endorsement. Low-intensity interventions may be effective in improving access to CHOs for patients with chronic disease.