In 1991, the Fiji School of Medicine restructured the training of its medical students, dividing the 7-year course into two phases. Students now undertake a 3-year community-oriented primary care practitioners course, after which they may elect to continue practice in a primary health care role, or to undertake further hospital-based training to complete their medical degree. The course responds to the health needs of the South Pacific, and the local patterns of morbidity and mortality, rather than measuring itself against the curricular demands of its more developed neighbours, Australia and New Zealand. At the same time, the Tropical Health Program of the University of Queensland Medical School responded to demands from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to develop primary health care training at degree level. This was intended to complement other strategies undertaken by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit such as the recruitment and support of indigenous students through mainstream health professional education. There was a need to address health priorities that are very different to those of the Australian population as a whole, as well as the sociopolitical and cultural context as it affects both students themselves and health issues in their communities. Both institutions have chosen problem-based teaching/learning as appropriate to their courses, and content is also similar, though with emphases that reflect the differing contexts. The two courses are examples of innovative responses by centres with university medical faculties to specific issues in health education.