Antibiotic resistance is a global public health problem that is accelerated by overuse and misuse of antibiotics. In today's world of increasing international travel and exchange of goods, the spread of antibiotic resistant organisms is a growing threat. Despite significant antibiotic use in developing nations, research to describe and curtail inappropriate use is limited. In this study, the investigators developed a model of antibiotic use, choices and acquisition of antibiotics model, from a study of a lay population in Honduras. A representative sample of 939 rural and urban Hondurans completed the Preguntas Para El Uso de Antibiotics questionnaire to determine how the participant made choices about antibiotic use. The study indicated that the rural participants used significantly fewer antibiotics than the urban participants and that the demographic indicators did not show a significant difference in antibiotic use in those of lower socioeconomic status. In addition, the participants reported that they seek out professional advice and care rather than self-prescribing. Implications for educational and empowerment programs based on the model are discussed. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.