Any fluid other than breast milk given first time to a newborn is defined as pre-lacteal feeding. Present study describes the extent and nature of pre-lacteal feeding practices among rural mothers in Bangladesh. Data were collected on 473 infants aged less than 2 years from 14 villages of Matlab thana during April-August 1995. Mothers who had an eligible infant were interviewed through a structured questionnaire. Only 7% of the infants were given breast milk as a first meal. Honey (56%), mustard oil (31%) and water with sugar (4%) were found as the most frequently used pre-lacteal liquid. Surprisingly, 9% of infants did not receive any food within 24 hours of birth. In most instances, grand mothers (44%) initiated the feeding followed by a dai (traditional birth attendant) (25%). This study confirms that exclusive breast-feeding was almost non-existent in rural Bangladesh. In most instances poor quality liquids are given to a newborn that increase the risk of introducing early infections. The existing nutrition education components in BRAC rural development and education programmes should be strengthened and focused to the entire community. It will create a better understanding on importance of popularising the concept of exclusive breast-feeding and avoid the existing pre-lacteal feeding practices as an strategy to improve child nutrition and survival.