Objectives: As parents of young children are often unaware their child is overweight, screening provides the opportunity to inform parents and provide the impetus for behaviour change. We aimed to determine if parents could recall and understand the information they received about their overweight child after weight screening. Design: Randomised controlled trial of different methods of feedback. Setting: Participants were recruited through primary and secondary care but appointments took place at a University research clinic. Participants and intervention: 1093 children aged 4–8 years were screened. Only overweight children (n=271, 24.7%) are included in this study. Parents of overweight children were randomised to receive feedback regarding their child's weight using best practice care (BPC) or motivational interviewing (MI) at face-to-face interviews typically lasting 20–40 min. 244 (90%) parents participated in a follow-up interview 2 weeks later to assess recall and understanding of information from the feedback session. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim before coding for amount and accuracy of recall. Scores were calculated for total recall and sub-categories of interest. Results: Overall, 39% of the information was recalled (mean score 6.3 from possible score of 16). Parents given feedback via BPC recalled more than those in the MI group (difference in total score 0.48; 95% CI 0.05 to 0.92). Although 94% of parents were able to correctly recall their child's weight status, fewer than 10 parents could accurately describe what the measurements meant. Maternal education (0.81; 0.25 to 1.37) and parental ratings of how useful they found the information (0.19; 0.04 to 0.35) were significant predictors of recall score in multivariate analyses. Conclusions: While parents remember that their child's body mass index is higher than recommended, they are unable to remember much of the information and advice provided about the result. Trial registration number: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12609000749202.