OBJECTIVES: To determine the number of women fitted with a diaphragm or cervical cap at family planning clinics across the Australian State of New South Wales (NSW) from 2000 to 2005. To compare the demographic characteristics of women fitted with this form of contraceptive with women prescribed the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP). METHOD: An audit of women presenting for contraceptive services between 2000 and 2005 was undertaken. The demographic characteristics of women fitted with a barrier method or prescribed the COCP between 1st April, 2002, and 31st October, 2004, were obtained from the Family Planning NSW Activity Data Set (FADS). RESULTS: The proportion of women fitted with a diaphragm or cap remained constant between 2001 and 2005 at approximately 5%. During the 31 months that the study period lasted, 793 women were fitted with a diaphragm or cervical cap compared with 8047 women prescribed the COCP during the same time frame (including 76 women who received both a diaphragm and COCP prescription during this period). Women fitted with the barrier contraceptive were significantly more likely to be older, to have received a tertiary level education and to have private health insurance than their counterparts prescribed the COCP. They were less likely to come from a non-English speaking background. DISCUSSION: The diaphragm and cervical cap are viable contraceptive methods for a specific group of older, well-educated women. The possible benefits of female-controlled barrier devices in the prevention of sexually transmissible infections may result in a wider demographic use in the future.