This study sought to determine the prevalence of the use of sun-protection measures in adolescents, and the variables which predicted use of and failure to use such measures. Three thousand and two school students in Years 9 and 10 from 26 high schools in New South Wales were surveyed in the last term of 1986 and the first term of 1987 as part of the NSW Department of Health's Country Regions Skin Cancer Prevention Campaign. By means of standardized criteria, 70% of the sample were defined as not using adequate protection. Stepwise regression showed that the number of opportunities for sun protection, as well as sex, smoking status, skin-type and area of residence were significant predictors of whether a student used sun-protection measures. Further regression analyses indicated that the attitudes and beliefs of students also were significant predictors of sun-protection use, independent of sociodemographic variables and the number of opportunities for sun protection. Interventions to increase the use of sun protection are more likely to be effective if they are targeted at the modifying of beliefs about the benefits and barriers to sun-screening, the perceptions of an appropriate image for peers and parental influences about covering-up in the sun.