The aim of this study was to gain insight into patients' perspectives on key information needs regarding their asthma. Focused conversation-style interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 32 patients (aged 18-84 years; males=17, females=15) from five sites (four primary care, one secondary care) in North West England. Interviews were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim, then subjected to line-by-line content analysis. Nine core information needs were identified: current medications; new therapies; medication side effects; triggers of an asthma attack; lifestyle issues; asthma causation; effects of asthma; long term outcome; and symptom control. Individual differences in information need were apparent, as were differences according to asthma severity. The findings highlight some of the challenges facing health professionals when information-giving. The study's findings could be used in a clinical context to facilitate discussion or to tailor information, and could also provide a basis for future quantitative studies. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.