Background We presented the pattern of health care consumption, and the utilization of available resources by describing the ecology of medical care in Beijing on a monthly basis and by describing the socio-demographic characteristics associated with receipt care in different settings. Methods A cohort of 6,592 adults, 15 years of age and older were sampled to estimate the number of urban-resident adults per 1,000 who visited a medical facility at least once in a month, by the method of three-stage stratified and cluster random sampling. Separate logistic regression analyses assessed the association between those receiving care in different types of setting and their socio-demographic characteristics. Results On average per 1,000 adults, 295 had at least one symptom, 217 considered seeking medical care, 173 consulted a physician, 129 visited western medical practitioners, 127 visited a hospital-based outpatient clinic, 78 visited traditional Chinese medical practitioners, 43 visited a primary care physician, 35 received care in an emergency department, 15 were hospitalized. Health care seeking behaviors varied with socio-demographic characteristics, such as gender, age, ethnicity, resident census register, marital status, education, income, and health insurance status. In term of primary care, the gate-keeping and referral roles of Community Health Centers have not yet been fully established in Beijing. Conclusions This study represents a first attempt to map the medical care ecology of Beijing urban population and provides timely baseline information for health care reform in China.