PIP: More than 1/2 of the pregnancies that occur each year in the US are unintended and 1/2 of these end in abortion. An attempt was made to determine the contraceptive availability, needs and preferences of low-income women via a telephone survey of 760 women, 18-35 years of age, living in 4 urban locations and a mail survey of all family planning clinics and private obstetrician-gynecologists in each of the 4 communities, as well as other physicians and clinics mentioned by the women. Although 94% of the women said they had used some contraceptive method at some time, 23% were not currently practicing contraception. Both nonuse and the use of less effective methods appear to be caused by method-related fears, dislike of available methods, and a general negative feeling about contraception. Less effective methods may be avoided because women view them as offering less protection and dislike their coitus-dependent qualities. Structural or provider-related concerns, such as cost, were seldom reported as barriers to contraceptive use. The primary barrier to clinic use is the apparent belief of many women that clinics do not offer personalized care and provide lower quality care than private physicians. Private physicians are avoided because of high cost and their lesser acceptance of Medicaid or Medi-Cal reimbursement. Encouraging more favorable attitudes toward contraceptive methods and improving access to and knowledge of inexpensive, personalized family planning services appear to be critical factors in fostering better contraceptive practice among low-income women in the US.