Many indicators of socioeconomic status used for adults are inappropriate for use in research on adolescents. In a school-based survey of 4079 Scottish schoolchildren using a self-completion questionnaire, over 20% of 11-15 year olds were unable to provide a substantive response on father's occupation. In contrast, indicators derived to construct a family affluence scale, which included car ownership, telephone ownership and the child having their own unshared bedroom, resulted in a 98% response rate; and 92% of children responded to a question on their weekly spending money. The intercorrelations between the conventional indicator of father's occupation and each family affluence and spending money were examined, and their associations with a range of health indicators and health behaviour measures compared. Father's occupational status and family affluence were moderately correlated and showed broadly similar patterns of association with the selected health measures although there were also some distinct differences. Child's spending money was only weakly correlated with father's occupation and showed rather different patterns of association with health measures. A case is made for the use of multiple indicators of socioeconomic status in adolescent health surveys, and it is argued that that the family affluence scale provides a useful and easily applied additional indicator to father's occupation or an alternative measure of socioeconomic background where occupational data are unavailable.