This study was undertaken with an aim of exploring community knowledge and treatment practices related to malaria and their determinants in high- and low-transmission areas of central India. A community-based cross-sectional study was carried out between August 2015 and January 2016 in two high- and two low-malaria-endemic districts of central India. A total of 1470 respondents were interviewed using a pre-tested structured interview schedule. Respondents residing in high-transmission areas with higher literacy levels, and of higher socioeconomic status, were found to practise more modern preventive measures than those living in low-transmission areas with low literacy levels and who were economically poor. Level of literacy, socioeconomic status and area (district) of residence were found to be the main factors affecting people’s knowledge of malaria aetiology and clinical features, and prevention and treatment practices, in this community in central India.