Screening by faecal occult blood test and colonoscopy is recommended for first degree relatives of people with colorectal cancer. While it is known that screening participation among relatives is low, relatives' beliefs and attitudes towards screening have not been explored at an in-depth level. In this study, four focus group discussions with first degree relatives of people with colorectal cancer were held. Discussions were audio-taped, transcribed verbatim and the data were independently coded and analysed by the authors. Three main themes were identified: risk, understanding, and screening. Perceived risk was determined by family history, age and gender. Of concern, there was limited understanding of the asymptomatic nature of screening with most relatives initially 'screened' after consulting a doctor with colorectal symptoms. These findings need to be considered in screening programs.