In March 1997 a multidisciplinary forum was convened by the National SIDS Council of Australia to review recent evidence concerning risk factors of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and to revise and refine the current guidelines for reducing the risk of SIDS. The forum provided an assessment of the evidence for recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS using an evidence-based process. Strong evidence has now accumulated that the intervention campaigns to reduce prone sleeping during infancy have been followed by SIDS rate declines. Recent data indicate that the supine position is not associated with an increase in significant morbidity outcomes and provides greater protection for SIDS than the side position, which may be unstable. Covering of the baby's head by bedding is strongly related to SIDS. The infant's sleeping environment should be carefully set up to ensure that the baby's head, including the face, cannot be obstructed during sleep. Parental smoking is strongly associated with SIDS. Structural supportive interventions for parental smoking cessation are required. Bedsharing increases the risk of SIDS amongst smokers and the data are currently not sufficient to provide complete reassurance to nonsmoking parents that bedsharing is safe. Infants should be maintained in a comfortable temperature zone. The evidence for a protective effect of breast-feeding is conflicting, so breast-feeding cannot be promoted strongly as reducing the risk of SIDS. Immunisation has not been associated with SIDS. Parents and carers should be aware of the current guidelines. Health professionals should also be aware of the evidence on which the current recommendations are based. Effective health education programmes should lead to a further decline in SIDS mortality in Australia.