BACKGROUND: Efforts to stamp dengue in many dengue endemic countries has met little success. There is a need to re-examine and understand how the public at large view the dengue prevention efforts. This study aimed to examine the demographic factors, theoretical constructs of the Health Belief Model and knowledge about dengue and how these influence the practice of dengue prevention. METHODS: A national telephone survey was carried out with 2,512 individuals of the Malaysian public aged 18-60 years. RESULTS: The majority (73%) of the Malaysian public had a total dengue prevention score of 51-100 (of a possible score of 1-100). Multivariate analysis suggests significant correlates of higher dengue prevention practices with demographic background, perception of susceptibility to dengue, perceived density of mosquitoes in the neighbourhood and knowledge about dengue. Households of lower income of which the majority (40.7%) were from the rural areas, were associated with the highest odds [OR = 1.33; 95%CI = 1.09-1.67; p = 0.004] of dengue prevention. Dengue prevention practices were also less likely to be undertaken in neighbourhoods where the responders perceived there is no and/or low density of mosquitoes. Dengue prevention practices are also less likely to be practiced by skilled workers [OR = 0.78; 95%CI = 0.63-0.95; p = 0.029] compared to those unemployed. Higher perceived susceptibility to dengue was associated with higher dengue prevention practices and participants with higher dengue knowledge were found to have a higher level of involvement in dengue prevention practices. CONCLUSION: Results from the study suggest that in formulating approaches to contain dengue, strategies should be developed to cultivate dengue prevention practices among urban population and target areas with low density of mosquitoes where public perceived a less likely chance of getting dengue. Dengue prevention campaigns should focus on messages highlighting the risk of contracting dengue and education to increase knowledge about dengue.