To promote physical and mental development of children, parenting education programmes in developing countries focus on specific practices such as age-appropriate responsive stimulation and feeding. A programme delivered to groups of poor mothers of children, aged less than three years, in rural Bangladesh was evaluated using an intervention-control post-test design. Mothers (n=170) who had attended a year of educational sessions and their children were compared with those (n=159) from neighbouring villages who did not have access to such a programme. After covariates were controlled, the parenting mothers obtained higher scores on a test of child-rearing knowledge and on the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME) inventory of stimulation. The parenting mothers did not communicate differently with their children while doing a picture-talking task, and children did not show benefits in nutritional status or language comprehension. Parenting sessions offered by peer educators were informative and participatory, yet they need to include more practice, problem-solving, and peer-support if information is to be translated into behaviour.