Objective: To establish the rate of primary compliance with medication of children discharged from the paediatric ward of a regional hospital.Methods: All paediatric admissions to a regional hospital for a 14-week period from April to July 2000 were studied. Patient data were collected for those paediatric inpatients discharged on medication. Written prescriptions kept by the local Aboriginal Medical Service and computerized data from local pharmacies were collected and the numbers filled were compared to ward discharge prescriptions.Results: There were 160 medical paediatric admissions. The median admission age was 19 months. There was no difference in patient sex, number of drugs prescribed, diagnosis of infection, mean age or the proportion of children under 2 years, between filled and unfilled prescriptions. In total, 49 prescriptions were filled from a total of 65 written (75%). This figure compares unfavourably with that of the metropolitan tertiary referral centre.Conclusions: Primary compliance was suboptimal, with the majority of unfilled prescriptions being for antibiotics. These findings suggest that a remediable cause of treatment failure may be primary non-compliance with medication in regional settings.