Mothers were allowed to choose between two different family-based adolescent alcohol-drug prevention strategies and the choice was examined in relation to parent and teen characteristics. Under real world conditions, parents are making choices regarding health promotion strategies for their adolescents and little is known about how parent and teen characteristics interact with programs chosen. The two programs were: Family Matters (FM) (Bauman KE, Foshee VA, Ennett ST et al. Family Matters: a family-directed program designed to prevent adolescent tobacco and alcohol use. Health Promot Pract 2001; 2: 81-96) and Strengthening Families Program (SFP) 10-14 (Spoth R, Redmond C, Lepper H. Alcohol initiation outcomes of universal family-focused preventive interventions: one- and two-year follow-ups of a controlled study. J Stud Alcohol Suppl 1999; 13: 103-11). A total of 272 families with an 11-12 years old enrolled in health care centers were in the choice condition of the larger study. SFP requires group meetings at specified times and thus demanded more specific time commitments from families. In contrast, FM is self-directed through booklets and is delivered in the home at a time chosen by the families. Mothers were significantly more likely to choose SFP when the adolescent had more problem behaviors. Mothers with greater education were more likely to choose FM. Findings may provide more real-world understanding of how some families are more likely to engage in one type of intervention over another. This understanding offers practical information for developing health promotion systems to service the diversity of families in the community.