This study investigates the ethnic differentials in contraceptive use in the north-eastern Ch’orti area of Guatemala, a region dominated by the Ladino culture. Data come from a household survey and in-depth interviews with service providers carried out in 2001 in the town of Jocotán, and a survey carried out in 1994 in two nearby indigenous villages (aldeas). Descriptive analysis and logistic regression are used to explore the data. Previous DHS surveys have used dress and language to classify ethnic groups. In this paper, an alternative approach based on self-identification is adopted. The results reveal significant differences in contraceptive behaviour among different ethnic groups within the same town and region. The results show that self-identified Ladino women who represented the minority of the population had contraceptive behaviour similar to their counterparts elsewhere in Latin America. The extremely low levels of contraceptive use among indigenous women from the aldeas suggest that the corresponding DHS figures in this region are probably overestimated.