Abstract There is continued interest in, and imperatives for, the classification of contact allergens according to their relative skin sensitising potency. However, achieving that end can prove problematic, not least when there is an apparent lack of concordance between experimental assessments of potency and the prevalence allergic contact dermatitis as judged by clinical experience. For the purpose of exploring this issue, and illustrating the important considerations that are required to reach sound judgements about potency categorisation, the lower alkyl methacrylate esters (LAM) have been employed here as a case study. Although the sensitising potential of methyl methacrylate (MMA) has been reviewed previously, there is available new information that is relevant for assessment of skin sensitising potency. Moreover, for the purposes of this article, analyses have been extended to include also other LAM for which relevant data are available: ethyl methacrylate (EMA), n-butyl methacrylate (nBMA), isobutyl methacrylate (iBMA), and 2-ethylhexyl methacrylate (EHMA). In addressing the skin sensitising activity of these chemicals and in drawing conclusions regarding relative potency, a number of sources of information has been considered, including estimates of potency derived from local lymph node assay (LLNA) data, the results of guinea pig assays, and data derived from in silico methods and from recently developed in vitro approaches. Moreover, clinical experience of skin sensitisation of humans by LAM has also been evaluated. The conclusion drawn is that MMA and other LAM are contact allergens, but that none of these chemicals has any more than weak skin sensitising potency. We have also explored here the possible bases for this modest sensitising activity. Finally, the nature of exposure to LAM has been reviewed briefly and on the basis of that information, together with an understanding of skin sensitising potency, a risk assessment has been prepared.