In the state of Victoria, Australia, a government funded genetic counseling service exists to meet the needs of families. An audit showed that many families do not use this service after the birth of a child with a genetic problem. To investigate this we surveyed families of children born with Down syndrome over 2 years in Victoria. Questionnaires were completed by 74 mothers, of whom only 18 had received genetic counseling between the birth and the time of the study (mean 3.5 years). Of those not receiving genetic counseling, 71% said they were not offered or had not heard of it. Mothers who had genetic counseling were younger than those who had not, and were more likely to have attended University. Those who had genetic counseling indicated less "satisfaction with care at the diagnosis" and were more likely to perceive their child as "unwell at birth" than those who were aware of genetic counseling but did not have it. Of those who did not have genetic counseling, over half were unclear about what it is, although 74% agreed with the statement "genetic counseling is most useful when planning to have another child." Of those who had heard of genetic counseling, 73% said they were not sure how it could help. Many families with children with Down syndrome are not aware of the existence or functions of genetic counseling. With greater awareness, some may still choose not to have genetic counseling, but others enunciated needs that could be met by this service if it were offered to them.