Most pesticides are synthetic chemicals manufactured specifically for their toxic properties to the target species, and widely used globally. Several epidemiological studies in the United States have suggested health concerns arising from the chronic exposure of young children to pesticides in the domestic environment. In the UK very little is currently known about how nonoccupational pesticides are being used or disposed of. Any use of pesticides is a potential risk factor for children's exposure, and any potential exposure is likely to be reduced by the parents’ adopting precautionary behaviour when using these pesticide products. This was investigated using a sample of 147 parents from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children cohort in and around Bristol, through an in-depth interview between August and November 2001. The results of this study add to the understanding of the underlying behaviour of parents applying pesticide products in the home environment in the UK. Pesticides are readily available, and are normally purchased in do-it-yourself shops and supermarkets and mostly disposed of in domestic waste. Safety was stated by 45% of parents to be the most important factor to consider when buying a pesticide. When buying pesticide products, labels were stated to be the most important source of information about pesticides. However, a third of parents stated they would not follow the product label exactly when using a product, just under half felt labels were both inadequate and hard to understand, and about 10% of parents would not take notice of warnings on the pesticide label. Less than half of parents would use gloves when applying a pesticide, although the use of protective equipment such as gloves during the application of pesticides could greatly reduce the exposure. It is a public health concern that the instructions on the labels of products may not always be understood or followed, and further understanding of user behaviour is needed.