Glucagon treatment requires a manually dexterous ‘operator’ who is composed, confident and competent in the whole procedure. Anecdotal reports from parents of teenagers describing difficulties in administering this procedure during severe hypoglycaemia led us to investigate the ‘techniques’ of 136 parents (106 parents of teenagers and 30 parents of young children). A simulated administration by parents using Novo Nordisk Glucagen® Hypokits was timed, rated and compared with a group of diabetes health professionals. Parent's ‘real life’ experiences of education and administration were obtained with a standard questionnaire. Glucagon residues in syringes and vials were estimated in a laboratory. Sixty nine per cent had handling difficulties ranging from opening the container to drawing the correct dose into the syringe. There was no statistical difference in time taken to complete the procedure between the two parent groups. However there was a significant difference between parents and the professional group. Parents were not accurate in administering dosages as recommended. Young children weighing more than 25 kg would have received less than the required dose. All parents reported verbal instruction with demonstration of the procedure at initial education. We suggest that glucagon administration needs to be taught ‘hands on’ and the skill reassessed on an annual basis. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.