National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) data have shown that nearly half of all malaria deaths in India occur in tribal-dominated areas. The present study took a qualitative approach to understanding community perceptions and practices related to malarial infection and anti-malarial programmes. Twelve focus group discussions and 26 in-depth interviews of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) were conducted in nine villages in the district of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra state in India in June 2016. A total of 161 village residents (94 males and 67 females) participated in the focus group discussions and 26 health workers participated in the in-depth interviews. Data were analysed using the content analysis approach. The findings revealed widespread misconceptions about malaria among village residents, and low use of preventive measures and anti-malarial services. Ignorance and treatment by unqualified traditional healers delay effective treatment seeking. Furthermore, failure to maintain drug compliance adds to the gravity of the problem. The study identified the social and behavioural factors affecting treatment uptake and use of treatment facilities in the study area. These should help the development of the behavioural change communication arm of any control strategy for malaria through improving community participation, so improving preventive practices and optimizing utilization of anti-malarial services.