OBJECTIVE: This paper examines public attitudes towards the acceptability of using prescription drugs to treat depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and whether attitudes are influenced by familiarity with the use of pharmacological treatments for these disorders. METHOD: Participants were 1265 members of the general public aged 18-101 years (50% female) participating in the Queensland Social Survey (QSS), an omnibus state-wide survey of households in the state of Queensland. The survey was administered through a CATI (computer-assisted telephone interviewing) system. RESULTS: Most members of the public thought that the drug treatment of depression was acceptable (55%) but attitudes were much less positive towards the use of drugs to treat ADHD (35.6% acceptable). Regression analyses showed that respondents who knew someone who had received pharmacological treatment for depression were more likely to find it acceptable. However, participants were divided about the acceptability of drug treatment for ADHD regardless of whether they knew someone who had received drug treatment for ADHD or not. Participants with a higher level of education were more likely to find drug treatment for depression and ADHD acceptable. Participants who did not know anyone who had received drug treatment were less likely to have a definite opinion on whether it was acceptable or unacceptable. CONCLUSIONS: Attitudes towards the acceptability of the use of prescription drugs are more positive for depression than for ADHD. This may broadly reflect ongoing controversies in the public sphere about the potential over-diagnosis of ADHD or overmedication of children with ADHD. Members of the public who do not know anyone with depression or ADHD may need particular information from prescribers in the event that they (or their child) are diagnosed.