Background The contribution of community pharmacists to the provision of primary healthcare is widely believed to be important. The health authority in Sudan is interested in developing pharmaceutical care (PC) practice as a means of improving the provision of primary healthcare services. However, there is a need for research to inform this development. Objectives To describe the current roles of community pharmacists; to describe their views about their current role and potential future role with regard to PC practice. Settings Community pharmacies in Khartoum State, Sudan. Methods This study applied a two-phase mixed methods approach. The first phase used a pre-tested, piloted, self-administered questionnaire with a stratified random sample of 246 pharmacies (26 % of total number) in Khartoum State. The sample size was based on 95 % confidence level, 5 % confidence interval and the response rate from the pilot study. The second phase applied semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 24 of the responded pharmacists. Main outcome measure Current activities of community pharmacists; pharmacists' opinions on PC practice and the barriers they might face in its implementation. Results For the questionnaire study the response rate was 83 % (205/246). Most dispensing activities were reported to be performed by a vast majority of respondents (94 % or more). A few PC activities were reported to be already performed by the majority of participants e.g. checking indications, interactions and contraindication (83 %, n = 171) and checking each repeat prescription for compliance (78 %, n = 159). However, the majority of PC activities were not performed. Nearly all pharmacist (99 %, n = 203) were willing to further implement PC practice, but reported a number of barriers to its implementation. Conclusion Efficient dispensing of prescriptions is the primary focus of community pharmacists in Khartoum State with some PC activities. The pharmacists have expressed a willingness to implement PC practice but indicated a number of barriers to successful implementation.