BACKGROUND:The present authors investigated a database about people with severe intellectual disability (ID) to explore whether secure/insecure attachment plays a role in challenging behaviour. METHODS:The study took the form of a survey of staff and carers involved with a cohort of 54 school-leavers with severe ID. RESULTS:Thirty-four per cent of students were rated by placement staff as 'over-investing in one or a few relationships which become a source of jealousy'. Students without such problems were significantly less likely to show challenging behaviours, while those with them were significantly more likely to be living outside the family home. CONCLUSIONS:These preliminary results justify more detailed and longitudinal research into the relationship between attachment status and challenging behaviour.