Satisfaction with respite care may be bound up with a variety of factors. The interaction of social support with ratings of a carer's satisfaction with respite care has not been explored in published work. The present authors postulated that social support, both during caring and during periods of relief from caring whilst in receipt of respite care, would be associated with greater satisfaction with respite care. They embarked upon a pilot study of carers who were looking after dependants with dementia, a particularly demanding form of care. Previously validated scales were used for determining levels of social support, and for assessing possible confounding factors such as carer depression or strain. One hundred and forty carers were contacted, but only 26 completed the questionnaires. In terms of perceived benefit to the carer, satisfaction was high (rating scale = 1–7, mean = 5.8, mode = 7) and correlated significantly with the numbers of people in the social support network (r = 0.57, P = 0.002), albeit not with any of the four measured types of support which they may have provided. Carer satisfaction was not significantly correlated with carer strain nor depression scores. Regression analysis demonstrated that 17% of the variance in this satisfaction score was accounted for by the numbers in the social support network. Other factors did not significantly explain the observed variation.