Formative research for hygiene promotion was used to gather data relating to hygiene practices in rural Kyrgyzstan. Some of the hand-washing and faeces disposal practices observed were sub-optimal from a public health perspective. In combination with the poverty, limited medical services and poor water supply infrastructure characteristic of the study area, it is likely that these factors increase the risk of diarrhoeal infections among Kyrgyz children. An association was found between increased rates of hand-washing following latrine use and ownership of a washstand. This offers some empirical support for the idea that promotion of hand-washing technologies can form a useful part of a hygiene promotion intervention. The process followed in conducting the formative research is outlined in some detail along with a discussion of some of its achievements and limitations.