Examination of the effect of various socioeconomic, cultural and demographic characteristics of married women in Ilorin, Nigeria, who are in their prime childbearing ages, on their contraceptive knowledge and on their attitudes towards modern contraception shows that only the woman's education, age and area of residence within the city have significant independent effects on contraceptive knowledge. More than 90% of the women interviewed thought that women should be free to practise family planning. Also, more than 95% of all the women believed that too frequent births could endanger the health of the mother and her children. However, only the women with previous contraceptive knowledge overwhelmingly (more than 80%) thought that the best way to prevent too frequent births is by family planning. On the contrary, 66.5% of those without previous contraceptive knowledge before this study suggested that traditional abstinence should be used and only 28.9% suggested family planning. Adequate awareness of the availability and usefulness of family planning methods can influence attitudes of women towards contraception and may also enhance contraceptive use.