RATIONALE, AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: There is a lack of respite services designed specifically for younger people with dementia. There is also a dearth of studies on the evaluation of domiciliary respite services for carers of people with dementia in general. This paper reports on the evaluation of a domiciliary respite service for carers of younger people with dementia, in one area in Northern Ireland, provided by a local branch of the Alzheimer's Society. METHODS: Using a qualitative approach, eight carers and their families were interviewed in their own homes about their views and expectations of the service, the benefits and problems they experienced, and other issues of relevance to them. RESULTS: Overall, they reported great satisfaction with the service. The way they used, and benefited from, the service differed for individuals. Most of them, however, gained respite in the form of help with bathing and dressing the person with dementia. Carers reported that they did not engage in social or recreational activities during the period of respite. Instead they used the respite time to catch up with household chores and shopping. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The benefits and concerns can only be understood from the perspectives of carers and in the context of their needs, values, beliefs and traditions. The insight gained can be used to inform future provision of services for this population.