Suicide ideation and attempts are a major health concern among adolescents, and recently, evidence has emerged suggesting that borderline personality disorder (BPD) may put individuals at even greater risk than depression alone. This is not surprising given that within adult samples, 8–10% of those diagnosed with BPD commit suicide. However, only a handful of studies have assessed the relation between BPD and suicide attempts among adolescents, and currently, nothing is known about the characteristics of suicide ideation among adolescents with BPD. Against this background, the aim of the present study was to examine the relation between BPD and the characteristics of suicide ideation and attempts (frequency, intensity and age of onset) in N = 106 adolescent inpatients. This question was examined using both clinician-rated and adolescent-rated measures of suicide ideation and attempts and both dimensional and categorical measures of BPD. The results of the present study indicate that adolescents with BPD experience suicide ideation earlier in life and more frequently than psychiatric controls. Notably, the groups did not differ with regard to adolescent-rated intensity of suicide ideation nor frequency, intent to die or age of onset of suicide attempts. A number of possible explanations for the absence of these group differences are presented. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.