This study explores the social factors that influence young people's participation in school and out of school physical activities. Fifty-two 16-year-old adolescents from different socioeconomic backgrounds in one suburban and one inner-city secondary school in the Midlands, UK, participated in group interviews which explored their perceptions about physical activity and the constraints they had experienced. The study suggests that involvement in physical activity is linked with students' social class, home environment and economic status. The level of participation of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds was limited compared to their higher socioeconomic counterparts. Furthermore, adolescents' 'cultural', physical' and 'economic' capital were salient factors in their involvement in physical activity settings. This study stresses the need for better and wider provision of structured physical activity in schools in economically deprived areas to compensate for lower participation levels.