Objectives: Since 1997, UK public health training has undergone major changes, including the creation of specialist registrars (SpRs), introduction of a competency framework, admission of non-medical (specialist) trainees and National Health Service organizational change. It was therefore considered timely to audit the quality of this training. Study design: Cross-sectional survey of all UK public health trainees, conducted in April 2003. Methods: The survey questions were based on 75 previously identified standards, with three sections: induction (30 standards), health protection (13 standards) and general training (32 standards). Results were calculated for the UK. Deaneries were compared on 10 key standards, as was the training of SpRs and specialist trainees. Results: Two hundred and ninety responses were received (62% response rate). Only 16 (21%) of 75 standards were met by at least 80% of respondents, with problems in induction, health protection, secretariat facilities and examination support. Across 10 key standards (including initial welcome, trainer support, breadth/relevance of work and facilities), 59% indicated that their training had met at least eight standards. Results for individual deaneries were significantly different (P=0.02), although 13 of 16 had median scores of eight out of 10, or over. Deaneries with specialists scored lower than those without (median scores eight vs nine, P=0.003). Median specialist and SpR scores on the 10 key standards were seven and eight, respectively (P < 0.001). In addition, SpRs were more likely to be 'on-call' [odds ratio (OR)=66.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 17.2-259.4, P < 0.001] and to feet prepared for this role (OR=10.7, 95% CI 1.4-79.8) than specialists. Conclusion: This was the first UK National Audit of Public Health Training. Few standards were achieved amongst respondents, although the levels set may be considered to be high and the response rate (62%) was less than optimal, potentially biasing results. Despite these caveats, recent organizational change in England appears to have led to significant training disruption among respondents. Nevertheless, repeating such an audit annually within deaneries could help to improve public health training throughout the UK. (c) 2005 The Royal Institute of Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.