Summary: This paper analyses the patterns of contraceptive use among Australian women, using data from the 1995 National Health Survey. More than 44% of all women aged 18–49 years reported using a method of contraception. Among users, the 2 most commonly reported methods were the pill (60%) and condom (27%); IUD and natural methods accounted for less than 5% each. Sterilizing operations of the woman/partner were the most frequently reported reasons for nonuse of contraception in women aged over 35 years, while among the younger women the most reported reasons were pregnancy or trying to get pregnant and not being sexually active. Among pill‐users about a quarter were smokers, 20% overweight and 13% reported heart or circulatory disease. These figures were generally lower than in the general population but indicate a need for regular monitoring. The survey demonstrates the continuing evolution in the use of contraception among Australian women.