Learning about menstrual hygiene is a vital aspect of health education for adolescent girls. This study among 664 schoolgirls aged 14-18 in Mansoura, Egypt, asked about type of sanitary protection used, frequency of changing pads or cloths, means of disposal and bathing during menstruation. Girls were selected by cluster sampling technique in public secondary schools in urban and rural areas. Data were collected through an anonymous, self-administered, open-ended questionnaire during class time. The significant predictors of use of sanitary pads were availability of mass media at home, high and middle social class and urban residence. Use of sanitary pads may be increasing, but not among girls from rural and poor families, and other aspects of personal hygiene were generally found to be poor, such as not changing pads regularly or at night, and not bathing during menstruation. Lack of privacy was an important problem. Mass media were the main source of information about menstrual hygiene, followed by mothers, but a large majority of girls said they needed more information. Instruction in menstrual hygiene should be linked to an expanded programme of health education in schools. A supportive environment for menstrual hygiene has to be provided both at home and in school and sanitary pads made more affordable.