Attention to the inequitable distribution and limited access to primary health care resources is key to addressing the priority health needs of underserved populations in rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas. There is little high-quality evidence about improving access to quality primary health care services for underserved groups, particularly in relation to geographic barriers, and limited discussion about the training implications of reforms to improve access. To progress equity in access to primary health care services, health professional education institutions need to work with both the health sector and policy makers to address issues of workforce mix, recruitment and retention, and new models of primary health care delivery. This requires a fundamental shift in focus from these institutions and the health sector, to each view themselves as partners in an integrated teaching, research and service-oriented health system. This paper discusses the challenges and opportunities for primary health care professionals, educators and the health sector in providing quality teaching and clinical experiences for increasing numbers of health professionals as a result of the reform agenda. It then outlines some practical strategies based on theory and evolving experience for dealing with some of these challenges and capitalising on opportunities.