© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are routinely prescribed empirically in the resource-poor settings for suspected acute common infections, which drive antimicrobial resistance. Point-of-care testing (POCT) might increase the appropriateness of decisions about whether and which antibiotic to prescribe, but implementation will be most effective if clinician's perspectives are taken into account. Objectives To explore the perceptions of South African primary care clinicians working in publicly funded clinics about: making antibiotic prescribing decisions for two common infection syndromes (acute cough, urinary tract infection); their experiences of existing POCTs; their perceptions of the barriers and opportunities for introducing (hypothetical) new POCTs. Design, method, participants, setting Qualitative semistructured interviews with 23 primary care clinicians (nurses and doctors) at publicly funded clinics in the Western Cape Metro district, South Africa. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results Clinicians reported that their antibiotic prescribing decisions were influenced by their clinical assessment, patient comorbidities, social factors (eg, access to care) and perceived patient expectations. Their experiences with currently available POCTs were largely positive, and they were optimistic about the potential for new POCTs to: support evidence-based prescribing decisions that might reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions; reduce the need for further investigations; support effective communication with patients, especially when antibiotics were unlikely to be of benefit. Resources and workflow disruption were seen as the main barriers to uptake into routine care. Conclusions Clinicians working in publicly funded clinics in the Western Cape Metro of South Africa saw POCTs as potentially useful for positively addressing both clinical and social drivers of the overprescribing of broad-spectrum antibiotics, but were concerned about the resource implications and disruption of existing patient workflows.