In order to make adequate provision for staffing and staff training in leagane (long-term residential care institutions for preschool age children in Romania) a postal survey was conducted in the autumn of 1991 to ascertain the demographic characteristics, job titles and educational attainment of directors and staff, staffing needs and the kinds of positions currently filled, the numbers of directors and staff exposed to continuing education programmes within the last 2 years, and the opinions of directors and staff regarding their most important continuing educational needs. The bulk of the direct care workforce was less than 50 years old. Thirty-four per cent of the direct care staff had less than a high-school education. Sixty-seven per cent of the staff were health professionals or health care workers. There were few psychologists, physical therapists, teachers or social workers. In the last 2 years, directors and other physicians had been mostly exposed to courses in the areas of psycho-social care/management and paediatric medical care. Nurses had attended professional development courses. Infirmiera (nursing assistants) had also attended professional development courses such as those offered by foreign non-governmental organizations on the care of institutionalized children. Educators (teaching assistants) had attended courses in child development and rehabilitation. Directors and staff expressed clear opinions regarding their needs and preferences for additional training.