A matched case-control study was carried out to identify risk factors for highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus (subtype H5N1) infection in commercial chickens in Bangladesh. A total of 33 commercial farms diagnosed with H5N1 before September 9, 2007, were enrolled as cases, and 99 geographically matched unaffected farms were enrolled as control farms. Farm data were collected using a pretested questionnaire, and analysed by matched-pair analysis and multivariate conditional logistic regression. Two factors independently and positively associated with H5N1 infection remained in the final model. They were ‘farm accessible to feral and wild animals’ (odds ratio [OR] 5.71, 95 per cent confidence interval [CI] 1.81 to 18.0, P=0.003) and ‘footbath at entry to farm/shed’ (OR 4.93, 95 per cent CI 1.61 to 15.1, P=0.005). The use of a designated vehicle for sending eggs to a vendor or market appeared to be a protective factor (OR 0.14, 95 per cent CI 0.02 to 0.88, P=0.036).