In spite of support among UK healthcare professionals for asthma guidelines, studies continue to show that many patients fail to reach the suggested management goals. Patient expectations and poor communication may be factors in this failure. This survey assessed patients' asthma control, expectations in respect of asthma and communication with healthcare professionals. A structured questionnaire, designed for self-completion, was developed and distributed to asthma patients at participating pharmacies. A total of 1031 questionnaires were returned. Most of the respondents, even among those feeling well, reported lifestyle restrictions because of asthma. These restrictions were not generally discussed with healthcare professionals. One-third did not perceive the benefits of inhaled corticosteroids. Low expectation may be a major contributor to the poor control seen in this survey. The failure to discuss lifestyle restrictions and symptom levels with healthcare professionals gives little scope for recommendation of appropriate and adequate treatment. Improved communication between healthcare professionals and patients may help such understanding and raise patient expectations.