Injuries are the major cause of morbidity among children and adolescents in developed countries, but there is a lack of consensus on the relationship between socioeconomic status and risk of injuries. A self-complete questionnaire survey, to gather information on non-fatal injuries and sociodemographic details, was administered in schools during April-June 1994 to a national sample of 4710 Scottish adolescents aged 11, 13 and 15 years. Although there was no evidence of a socioeconomic gradient in the total incidence of medically attended injuries among adolescents, based on the Registrar General's classifications of paternal occupation and a composite measure of family affluence, marked socioeconomic variation in the circumstances in which injuries occurred was observed. There were also socioeconomic differences in the extent and type of risk behaviours reported by adolescents, indicating differential rates of risk exposure. The finding that socioeconomic status affects the kinds of injury events adolescents experience and levels of risk behaviour has implications for the design of injury prevention strategies.