Aim To estimate the population attributable risk (PAR) for Chlamydia trachomatis infection in young men and women in Sydney, Australia. Method Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the association between demographic, sexual behaviour and other potential risk factors and chlamydia positivity in young (≤30 years) heterosexual international travellers (backpackers) and Australian residents attending a sexual health clinic. Point and interval estimates of PAR were calculated to quantify the proportion of chlamydia infections that can theoretically be prevented if a combination of risk factors is eliminated from a target population. Results In males, the PAR associated with inconsistent condom use in the past 3 months was 65% (95% CI 56% to 71%) in backpackers compared to 50% (95% CI 41% to 56%) in non-backpackers and the PAR associated with reporting three or more female sexual partners in the past 3 months was similar between male backpackers and non-backpackers (33% (95% CI 28% to 40%) and 36% (95% CI 32% to 41%), respectively). In females, the PAR associated with inconsistent condom use in the past 3 months was 51% (95% CI 42% to 59%) in backpackers compared to 41% (95% CI 31% to 51%) in non-backpackers, and the PAR associated with reporting three or more male sexual partners in the past 3 months was 14% (95% CI 11% to 18%) in backpackers compared to 30% (95% CI 25% to 37%) in non-backpackers. Conclusion These findings suggest that the largest number of chlamydia infections could be avoided by increasing condom use, particularly in backpackers. Reporting multiple partners was also associated with a large proportion of infections and the risk associated with this behaviour should be considered in health promotion strategies.