OBJECTIVE--To assess the benefits of giving parents tape recorded child development centre assessment report summaries. DESIGN--Prospective randomly allocated study. SETTING--Child development centre, Birmingham Children's Hospital. SUBJECTS--Parents of 113 consecutive children attending for multidisciplinary developmental assessment. OUTCOME MEASURES--Recall of information and use of, and views on, the written and tape recorded summaries. RESULTS--Parents who received the tape recording showed no increase in recall of the summary's content six weeks later. Forty three per cent of English speaking parents favoured the tape recorded summary, as did 89% of Urdu/Punjabi speaking parents. CONCLUSIONS--Tape recorded summaries were popular with parents, but other methods are needed to help parents, especially those whose first language is not English, to understand the implications of multidisciplinary assessment of their child.