The objectives were: to provide information about breast and cervical cancer and related screening services to minority ethnic women, to enable them to make well informed decisions and choices; to adopt a health education strategy based on a community development approach, augmented by a local publicity campaign; and to evaluate both the direct and indirect effects of this project. To this end a community development intervention study was made over 18 months from October 1991 to March 1993 in Bradford, a multicultural city with 87,000 residents from minority ethnic groups. The subjects of the study were 1,628 women from minority ethnic groups in three geographical areas of Bradford. A stratified sample of 1,000 women (670 South Asian, 163 African-Caribbean, 96 Eastern European and 71 other) was interviewed at the beginning of the project and six months after the health promotion intervention. Two specifically trained Health Promotion Facilitators from minority ethnic groups undertook community development work within three neighbourhoods in Bradford with the largest minority ethnic populations. There were group sessions in both formal and informal settings, which included health education about breast and cervical cancer and the associated screening programmes. These sessions were in the women's preferred languages and audio-visual material and a specially designed teaching pack were used. There were significant differences in the baseline levels of knowledge about cervical cancer and breast cancer across the different minority ethnic groups. The South Asian women had the lowest levels of knowledge and also showed the most significant improvements. Significant increases in attendance for cervical smear and breast cancer screening were self-reported. These were confirmed by anecdotal views of local health professionals. In addition, a local self-help group for South Asian women was established; also the contacts with other related organisations and professionals has helped to raise the issues of ethnically sensitive services within the voluntary and statutory sectors. A community development approach to health promotion is particularly valuable in communities with low levels of knowledge about a diseases or health service provision. Community development approaches often produce outcomes that had not been predicted. There is a need to conduct a definitive study in this area of health promotion for minority ethnic populations with emphasis on evaluation, cost-benefit analysis and opportunity costs.