OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence, examine the influence of hospital practices and investigate potential determinants of breast-feeding in Athens. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Three hundred twelve mothers provided information regarding feeding practices at certain maternity hospitals in Athens, at 40 days and 6 months postpartum. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate the association between the initiation and maintenance of breast-feeding and potential risk factors. RESULTS: Although almost 90% of newborn infants were given a breast milk substitute one or more times during the first 2 days at the maternity hospital, the exclusive breast-feeding percentage on the last day of hospital stay reached 85%. Breast-feeding and exclusive breast-feeding percentages dropped to 55% and 35%, respectively, at 40 days postpartum and to 16% and 12%, respectively, at 6 months postpartum. While in the hospital, 3% of mothers initiated breast-feeding within 1 hour of labor, only 34% were informed about the advantages of breast-feeding by health professionals and 42% were trained to breast-feed by the midwives. "Rooming-in" was not practiced in the private hospitals. The educational level was positively associated with the initiation of breast-feeding [odds ratio (OR): 1.36, confidence interval (CI): 1.02-1.81], the mother's body mass index was negatively associated with the maintenance of breast-feeding for 40 days (OR: 0.56, CI: 0.32-0.98) and 6 months (OR: 0.28, CI: 0.06-1.26) and a caesarean section was negatively associated with the initiation (OR: 0.24, CI: 0.11-0.49) and maintenance of breast-feeding (OR: 0.42, CI: 0.20-0.89). CONCLUSIONS: Breast-feeding is not appropriately supported in certain maternity hospitals in Athens, and this is probably the cause of observed low breast-feeding prevalence.