The aim of this study was to design an appearance programme in order to prevent the misuse of androgenic anabolic steroids among adolescents and to evaluate the adolescents' perception of this programme. The study was performed in all schools in a primary health care area on the south west coast of Sweden. The intervention targeted all 16- and 17-year-old males and females (n = 921). The intervention and evaluation were completed by 451 boys. The strategy of the appearance programme was to create awareness of and to discuss attitudes towards steroid hormones among these adolescents. Youth leaders and health workers, who discussed these subjects with adolescents over a period of 2 years, carried out the intervention programme. The perception of the programme was analysed anonymously using questionnaires. Effects on the total population of youths were assessed by two cross-sectional surveys. The intervention programme was well received by the adolescents. The misuse of androgenic anabolic steroids had a tendency to decrease after the appearance programme. We demonstrated a method for involving the community in an appearance programme to reduce misuse of anabolic steroids and showed that youth were sensitive to our discussions about appearance and attitudes. This study indicates that drug abuse among adolescents can be decreased by health promotion activities, such as group discussions. Controlled studies are needed before the results of this appearance programme can be generalized.