OBJECTIVES: The use of contraception in Denmark, Germany, Poland, Italy, and Spain is described. METHODS: Data were drawn from a population-based cross-sectional study, the European Study of Infertility and Subfecundity. Interviews were conducted with 6630 women aged 25 to 44 years. Logistic regression was used to estimate the effect of factors associated with contraceptive use. RESULTS: Residents of Northern European countries tended to use more effective methods of contraception than residents of Southern European countries. The use of contraception was generally more common among single women, the more highly educated, those with children, and those with a previous induced abortion. These characteristics were also the main determinants of the use of more effective methods. Periodic abstinence and withdrawal were more common among older women. CONCLUSIONS: The European countries are in different phases of contraceptive practice: in Northern and Western Europe, use of more modern methods has been stable over the past 10 years, whereas these methods are less common in Southern and Eastern Europe. The results suggest the need for information, education, and provision of contraceptive services in Eastern and Southern Europe.