The impact of research information depends on its ability to change beliefs or policy assumptions within the relevant audiences. As a hybrid of American and British systems, Canada's chosen decision-making structure for policy-making and its legislative framework for health insurance make these audiences unclear and not readily accessible. This factor and historical characteristics of the research community which made them only partially responsive to the values of decisionmakers provide an explanation for the limited past use of research information in Canadian health policy. More recently, improved responsiveness by researchers and an emerging definition of the audiences by legislative policymakers are bringing about a gradual increase in the potential impact of research at the levels of administrative and clinical policy. Because of continuing decision-making constraints on legislative policy, however, impact at this level is predicted to remain diffuse, with only cautious acceptance of the changes in beliefs implied by research.