Well-organised information is vital in gaining a competitive advantage within engineering companies. Increasingly, computer systems are used for managing this information, but for systems to be successful they need to be built on an understanding of how engineers work. This paper contributes to this understanding by reporting on how 10 engineers, from two aerospace companies, organise and use information. Information profiles have been proposed as a means of identifying the requirements of engineers who are working in different design situations (characterised by the stage of the design life cycle and also the social environment in which the engineers work). The results indicate important differences in the extent to which personal, local group and company-wide information is used. In particular, clear differences are identified between engineers who can be considered as company 'experts' and those involved in mainstream design activities. These differences manifest themselves in the extent to which personal and local group information collections are used, the content and also the strategies used for storing and updating the material within these stores. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.