OVERVIEW: The project tracked the development and implementation of a pediatric asthma guideline to determine its usefulness as a quality assurance mechanism for children with special health care needs. METHODS: Interviews were conducted with clinic staff to gather descriptive information about guideline implementation at owned clinics within a large HMO. RESULTS: Providers developed multiple implementation strategies emphasizing patient/family education. Service coordination within the health plan was well established, while coordination of services beyond the health plan was less clearly related to guideline implementation. CONCLUSION: Guideline implementation appeared to be a highly variable process. Clinical guidelines alone may not be sufficient tools of quality assurance for children with chronic or complex conditions.