Anecdotal evidence suggests the use of bolus tube feeding is increasing in the long-term home enteral tube feed (HETF) patients. A cross-sectional survey to assess the prevalence of bolus tube feeding and to characterise these patients was undertaken. Dietitians from ten centres across the UK collected data on all adult HETF patients on the dietetic caseload receiving bolus tube feeding (n 604, 60 % male, age 58 years). Demographic data, reasons for tube and bolus feeding, tube and equipment types, feeding method and patients’ complete tube feeding regimens were recorded. Over a third of patients receiving HETF used bolus feeding (37 %). Patients were long-term tube fed (4·1 years tube feeding, 3·5 years bolus tube feeding), living at home (71 %) and sedentary (70 %). The majority were head and neck cancer patients (22 %) who were significantly more active (79 %) and lived at home (97 %), while those with cerebral palsy (12 %) were typically younger (age 31 years) but sedentary (94 %). Most patients used bolus feeding as their sole feeding method (46 %), because it was quick and easy to use, as a top-up to oral diet or to mimic mealtimes. Importantly, oral nutritional supplements (ONS) were used for bolus feeding in 85 % of patients, with 51 % of these being compact-style ONS (2·4 kcal (10·0 kJ)/ml, 125 ml). This survey shows that bolus tube feeding is common among UK HETF patients, is used by a wide variety of patient groups and can be adapted to meet the needs of a variety of patients, clinical conditions, nutritional requirements and lifestyles.