The present study explores the characteristics and concerns of a group of mothers of young people with a history of specific language impairment (SLI). Altogether, 52 young people and their mothers participated. Psychometric tests were used to assess mothers' cognitive and literacy performance and socio-economic status was also recorded. Maternal concerns about their young people were taken from the Autism Diagnostic Interview. Young people were also assessed for language, literacy and cognitive performance. Number and type of concerns as well as the ways in which child and mother characteristics relate to maternal concern were examined. The findings revealed that mothers of those with SLI were no more likely to have language difficulties than those in the general population. The majority of mothers reported either one concern (36.5%), or two concerns (36.5%) for their adolescents. A smaller group reported more concerns (11.5%) and eight mothers reported no concerns for their adolescents (15%). The most common reported primary maternal concern was the future, followed by social and educational concerns. Interestingly, few mothers reported speech and language concerns. Furthermore, maternal concerns for their adolescents were not related to the young people's own characteristics. Whilst most parent characteristics were also not associated with their concerns, type of concern reported appeared to be related to mothers' own skills: higher overall IQ and literacy scores were found for parents reporting concerns about their adolescent's social skill. © 2006 Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd.