Background: In 2001, a white paper set out a commitment to ensure that people with a learning disability receive equal access to health services, with an expectation that general practices would have identified all people with a learning disability registered with the practice by June 2004. Aim: To outline the development of a template to create practice-based registers of people with learning disabilities in general practice. Design of study: The study was prospective, employing a template to identify patients in general practice with a learning disability. The study used capture-recapture methodology to estimate the prevalence of learning disability in the population. Setting: General practices in Leeds. Method: A template was developed that uses Read code searches of practices' electronic medical records, along with practice knowledge to identify patients who have a learning disability. Results: The tool was piloted in 30 general practices in Leeds and validated against a city-wide database of people with learning disability. There was a wide variation between the practices in terms of how many people were identified, with the average being 0.4% of the practice population. Combined with validation from the city-wide database, this increased to 0.7%. Conclusion: The template provides a valuable tool for general practices to begin developing a practice-based register of patients with a learning disability. This is particularly timely in view of the revised General Medical Services contract Quality and Outcomes Framework indicator, stimulating practices to produce a register of patients with learning disability. Use of a common definition for learning disability is needed to improve consistency in identification across practices.