Maize (Zea mays L.) is the most important cereal crop in the hills of Nepal, where the grain is used for human consumption and the stover for animal fodder. Maize farms are small, and population pressure necessitates the intensification of existing farming systems. Maize research directed at developing technologies for maize production began in Nepal in 1965. In 2000, a survey was carried out in two districts to determine the current level of adoption of improved maize production practices. In each of these districts, remote and accessible village development committees (VDCs) were surveyed. Questionnaires were administered to 54 randomly selected households in each VDC. A Tobit analysis was used to determine socio-economic, physical and technology factors that influence the use of improved varieties by farmers. All households use composted farmyard manure, and in the more accessible areas, urea as part of their soil fertility management strategy. Use of improved varieties was less than 60% for all VDCs and only 15% in the most remote VDC. In three of the four VDCs, adoption of improved varieties primarily occurred during the past 5 years. Based on a Tobit analysis, Khet land area, ethnic group, years of fertiliser use, off-farm income, and contact with extension significantly and positively affected adoption of improved varieties. Farmers in VDCs in central Nepal reported lack of seed to be the major constraint to the adoption of improved varieties, while lack of knowledge of new varieties was the major constraint for farmers in the western VDCs. The results from this survey suggest that the strategy for improving the adoption of new varieties will differ depending on infrastructure and the socio-economic conditions of the farmers in a given area. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.