Thousands of self-help organisations (SHOs) exist in Australia but little is known about how they relate to the mainstream health care system. This qualitative study, based in south-east Queensland, aimed to identify examples of collaboration between general practitioners (GPs) and SHOs in order to examine the attributes of successful partnerships. Representatives of six SHOs, identified by key informants as having good collaborative links with GPs, and seven GPs with whom they collaborated, completed semi-structured interviews. The interviews focused on evidence of collaboration and perceptions of benefits and barriers experienced. Maximum variation sampling enabled a cross-section of SHOs in terms of size, funding, and health issue. Although GPs readily identified SHO benefits, they referred patients to them only rarely. SHO credibility, evidence of tangible benefits for patients, ease of contacting the SHO, and correspondence between the SHO?s focus and the GP?s personal and professional interests appear to contribute to the success of partnerships. We conclude that mutually beneficial partnerships between GPs and SHOs exist but are under-utilised. A more coordinated effort is needed to strengthen links between the two sectors.