Background: The shortage of general practitioners in Australia is likely to continue unless more doctors choose general practice as a career. The aim of this qualitative research was to explore the factors that influence students' and junior doctors' career choice, particularly in respect to choosing general practice. Methods: Medical students, junior doctors, general practice registrars and GPs were recruited and interviewed. The interviews were semistructured, transcribed and analysed by theme. Results: Themes from the 38 interviews included the experience of general practice during training, the impact of the postgraduate general practice placements program, and factors that make general practice attractive or unattractive as a career choice. Discussion: There are a number of factors that contribute to medical students' and junior doctors' career choice. Attention needs to be paid to the quality of the general practice learning experience and general practice posts in the early postgraduate years, and the attractions of general practice should be promoted.