Key establishment in sensor networks is a challenging problem because of resource constraints of the sensors. Due to resource limitations and vulnerable to physical capture of the sensor nodes, the classical public-key routines are impractical in most sensor network architectures. In this paper, we propose a new random key pre-distribution scheme. Our scheme always defines a relationship between the ids of neighbor nodes and the keys possessed by those nodes while maintaining the required randomness in choice of keys. Our proposed scheme provides better security against node capture attack than the existing random key pre-distribution schemes. Moreover, it has better trade-off between communication overhead, network connectivity and security against node capture compared to the existing random key pre-distribution schemes. In addition, it supports dynamic node addition efficiently after initial deployment of the nodes in the network. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.