Background Equitable improvement of treatment-seeking for malaria will depend partly on how different socio-economic groups perceive the ease of accessing and utilizing malaria treatment services from different healthcare providers. Hence, it was important to investigate the link between socioeconomic status (SES) with differences in perceptions of ease of accessing and receiving treatment as well as with actual health seeking for treatment of malaria from different providers. Methods Structured questionnaires were used to collect data from 1,351 health providers in four malaria-endemic communities in Enugu state, southeast Nigeria. Data was collected on the peoples' perceptions of ease of accessibility and utilization of different providers of malaria treatment using a pre-tested questionnaire. A SES index was used to examine inequities in perceptions and health seeking. Results Patent medicine dealers (vendors) were the most perceived easily accessible providers, followed by private hospitals/clinics in two communities with full complement of healthcare providers: public hospital in the community with such a health provider and traditional healers in a community that is devoid of public healthcare facilities. There were inequities in perception of accessibility and use of different providers. There were also inequity in treatment-seeking for malaria and the poor spend proportionally more to treat the disease. Conclusion Inequities exist in how different SES groups perceive the levels of ease of accessibility and utilization of different providers for malaria treatment. The differentials in perceptions of ease of access and use as well as health seeking for different malaria treatment providers among SES groups could be decreased by reducing barriers such as the cost of treatment by making health services accessible, available and at reduced cost for all groups.