A cross-sectional audit by questionnaire was carried out on 100 consecutive colposcopy clinic patients. These women were first attenders, with cervical smears showing mild to severe dyskaryosis. This study assessed the delivery of information using educational leaflets and verbal counselling and the knowledge these women had in the key areas of cervical screening and colposcopy. Of the 82 patients whose questionnaires were analysed, 83% had received the educational leaflets, 61% received verbal information while 56% had received both. Of the 68 patients who had received the information leaflet, 97% read and understood it and 93% considered the information in it adequate. Overall, 91% of the patients knew which organ was being screened, 89% knew the implication of an abnormal smear and 88% were aware of the implication of defaulting from follow-up. Ten per cent of the women believed that an abnormal smear meant an early stage cancer, 54% were not aware of the effect of smoking on abnormal smears and biopsy results and only 24% were aware of follow-up plans in colposcopy. It appears that preclinic information through educational brochures and verbal counselling are achieving the desired effect by improving women's knowledge, but there is still scope for improvement. Verbal educational and written information needs to address the issues of follow-up in colposcopy and the implications of default as this may improve compliance. The number of women receiving both written and verbal information should increase from the current 56%.