As part of a skin cancer control programme, we studied the occurrence of self-reported outdoor tanning, sunbed use and ultraviolet (UV)-induced erythema in an urban area. A cross-sectional questionnaire study of 6000 adolescents aged 13-19 years, and 4000 adults aged 20-50 years was applied. Non-response was analysed for outdoor tanning and sunbed use. Results, in general, did not differ between responders and non-responders. Females aged 17-29 years tanned outdoors most frequently. Sunbed use and related erythema was twice as common in young females. In males, outdoor tanning was not age-related. In the past 12 months, 55% reported sunburn and/or burn from sunbed use, one-third were burned in Sweden, one-quarter on sunny resorts abroad. Sunburn occurs frequently. Compliance with recommendations for sunbed use is poor, especially among adolescents and young adults. To reduce the occurrence of erythema, the influence of risk settings upon behaviours is a critical issue for exploration.