Health promotion involves the modification of behaviours which constitute risks to health, through such activities as intensive interventions with individuals, community health campaigns, and legislative and social change. Major target behaviours for health promotion include cigarette smoking, eating habits, exercising, and the management of stress. This paper outlines the range of approaches to behaviour change in health promotion, and considers the stages involved in the behaviour-change process. Theoretical frameworks for dealing with health-related behaviour change are suggested. In considering the relationship between behavioural research and health promotion activities, the process of development from basic research to programmes and policies is outlined, and the importance of maintaining conceptual and methodological rigour when working in field settings is stressed. We also argue that there is a need to take into account some relevant local contextual factors in the development and application of a behavioural approach to health promotion.