Objectives: To determine the knowledge and attitude of nursing staff and mothers towards kangaroo mother care (KMC) in the eastern sub-district of Cape Town. Design: A cross-sectional descriptive study. Setting and subjects: A multi-stage sample of 30 kangaroo care mothers admitted to the Helderberg District Hospital (HDH); six nurses from the HDH; and nine nurses from the seven antenatal clinics that the mothers attended. The respondents were interviewed using a pretested questionnaire. Outcome measures: Knowledge, attitudes and acceptability of KMC. Results: Data were analysed using CDC Epi Info version 3.3.2, and Microsoft Excel software programmes. The majority of the mothers (83.3%) did not have prior knowledge of KMC. Sixty per cent of the nursing staff did not have any KMC training. The majority of the mothers were committed to KMC, were satisfied with the results (with regard to the weight gain of the infant), and indicated that they would continue to practise KMC at home. The majority of the hospital nursing staff was very positive toward KMC, and agreed that it was beneficial to both mother and infant. Conclusion: Most of the mothers lacked prior knowledge of KMC, and were only informed about it when they were admitted to the KMC ward. All of the nursing staff who were engaged in KMC (n = 15) had a positive attitude towards it.