BACKGROUND: In 1998, a new organ donor registration scheme was implemented in the Netherlands in order to increase the number of potential donors and to facilitate decisions and procedures concerning organ donation. However, registration rate and registration choices failed to meet the expectations. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey among a random sample of 1,731 Dutch adolescents of 18 and 19 years was conducted to study potential determinants of organ donor registration choices. RESULTS: Almost one fifth of the adolescents indicated that they did not return their organ donation registration form. Among subjects who registered, 57% were willing to donate their organs or tissues posthumously. More positive social influences, fewer negative outcome beliefs, and a low level of organ donation anxiety were significant predictors of returning a completed registration form and registration as an organ donor. In addition, religion was a significant predictor of returning a completed registration form, and positive outcome beliefs contributed to the prediction of registration as an organ donor. CONCLUSIONS: The results give clear suggestions for tailoring organ donation registration interventions to specific characteristics, beliefs, and misconceptions of adolescents. The results also suggest that it is important to encourage adolescents to discuss issues related to organ donation with their parents and friends in order to increase donor registration.