Purpose – this paper sets out to present a detailed empirical investigation of the entrepreneurial intentions of business students. The authors employ the theory of planned behaviour (tpb), in which intentions are regarded as resulting from attitudes, perceived behavioural control, and subjective norms.design/methodology/approach – the methodology used was a replication study among samples of undergraduate students of business administration at four different universities (total n=1,225). Five operationalisations of intentions are used as well as a composite measure. Prior to the main study, qualitative research conducted at two other universities (total n=373) was held to operationalise the components of the tpb.findings – the results show that the two most important variables to explain entrepreneurial intentions are entrepreneurial alertness and the importance attached to financial security.research limitations/implications – various research design features are used that result in better and more detailed explanations of entrepreneurial intentions.practical implications – should one want to stimulate entrepreneurship in educational or training settings, then this paper's results provide guidance. Several suggestions are offered on how entrepreneurial alertness can be improved and financial security concerns can be reduced.originality/value – the study provides detailed and solid results on entrepreneurial intentions which are positioned in the career literature.