PURPOSE: It is not known how clinicians characterise unilateral neglect (ULN) or whether they consider the different types of ULN during their evaluation and management of patients with this condition. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into physiotherapists' understanding of ULN and to identify the terminology used by clinicians to characterise neglect behaviour. METHOD: Qualitative research design employing focus groups and one-to-one interviews. Thirty-three experienced neurological and novice physiotherapists from one Australian state were asked to discuss how they characterise ULN and to explain what they meant by the terms they used. Data analysis involved preparation of verbatim transcripts followed by coding, data reduction, and identification of major themes. Data management was facilitated using NVivo computer software. FINDINGS: Terms such as sensory neglect, visual neglect, extinction, inattention, and functional neglect were used to characterise neglect behaviour but there was considerable confusion between many of these terms. Motor neglect was an unfamiliar concept to many participants. Functional implications of ULN were considered important. Characterisations of neglect according to the spatial distribution of the behaviour were uncommon. CONCLUSIONS: Despite awareness of many types of neglect, the physiotherapists in this study did not have a clear understanding of how to accurately characterise the different types of ULN. Education to address the issue is required.