OBJECTIVES: Motivational interviewing (MI) is widely established as an effective counselling approach for many lifestyle issues, but is largely untested in pharmacy settings. The aim of this study was to identify factors that impact on the feasibility of using MI with pharmacy clients in routine community pharmacy work in Sweden. METHODS: Interviews were conducted with 15 pharmacists at two pharmacies after they had participated in manual-based MI skills training and used MI with clients for 6 months. The pharmacists were offered hands-on training from 'pilot pharmacists' who had received more MI training and were involved in assembling the manual that adapted MI for use in pharmacies. Three focus groups with the pharmacists and five individual interviews with pharmacists in leading positions were conducted. Data were interpreted from a phenomenological perspective. KEY FINDINGS: Pharmacists who had previously participated in education that included elements similar to MI felt this facilitated their use of MI. Pharmacists experienced many difficulties associated with the practical application of MI, including initiating and concluding client conversations. The opportunity to decide on appropriate clients and/or health-related behaviours for counselling was an important facilitator. The pharmacists believed the physical environment of the pharmacies was favourable for MI use, but they experienced time limitations when there were many clients on the premises. The organisational context in which MI was applied affected the pharmacists' attitudes to using MI. CONCLUSIONS: There are several factors to take into consideration in the implementation of MI in pharmacies.