The issue of self-care is becoming increasingly central to both policy and practice in health and social care in the community. It is imperative therefore that research in this important area is drawn together and presented coherently so as to ensure that change can be informed by evidence and implemented sensitively. As cystic fibrosis (CF) has until recently been regarded as a paediatric condition, there is relatively little research that focuses on the self-care of adults. Although not entirely uncritical of traditional biomedicine, these studies focus on individual patient deficits and are directed primarily at facilitating their ‘compliance’. After discussing some important methodological, evidential and theoretical limitations of this research, other recent CF literature will be considered that suggests the possibility of developing a ‘social model’ for self-care research. The proposed model is more pluralistic and less prescriptive than its predecessors and the resulting ‘types’ of self-care indicate that both old and new, mainstream and marginal discourses should co-exist. Indeed, recognising the legitimacy of distinct varieties of self-care not only guards against unwarranted moralising and pathologising but may also enable self-care support to be negotiated and tailored more appropriately.