Antibiotics are widely prescribed to children, and the responsibility for ensuring adequate administration typically rests with parents However, compliance with antibiotic medication is generally low, and previous studies often fail to specify the criteria for compliance adequately In particular, little attention has been paid to accuracy of timing of antibiotic administration outside hospital, even though timing is important in maintaining therapeutic drug levels The current study examined the self-reports of 75 mothers of their behaviours in administration of antibiotics to their children, with particular attention being paid to the frequency and timing of administration The study found that, when timing of doses was considered, only seven parents could be considered as fully compliant with dosage instructions, a much lower proportion than indicated in previous studies which applied a more lenient definition of compliance The implications of this finding are discussed, with particular reference to the role of the nurse and to the comparative usefulness of different definitions of compliance