OBJECTIVE: The objective of the present study was to assess the applicability of attachment theory to the relationships of gay males and lesbians, with particular emphasis on parental relationships, relationship satisfaction, sexual attitudes and 'coming out' as being homosexual. METHODS: Gay males (n = 77) and lesbians (n = 100) completed questionnaires assessing attachment style, working models of attachment, early relationships with parents and relationship history, status and functioning. A comparison sample of heterosexual participants completed measures of attachment style and relationship history. RESULTS: Relative frequencies of attachment styles were similar for homosexual and heterosexual samples. Contrary to previous research using largely heterosexual respondents, no link between early parenting and attachment style was found. However, homosexual males reported more positive early relationships with mothers than did females. Associations of attachment style with working models, relationship variables and sexual attitudes largely supported those based on heterosexual samples. Gender and attachment style differences were found in reported effects of 'coming out' on relationships with parents. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the results suggest that insecure attachment may not be over-represented in gay and lesbian samples, but that insecurity is associated with less relationship satisfaction and with problems related to the disclosure of sexual orientation. The implications of these findings for research and clinical practice are addressed.