Data from a programme of research exploring information channels about health and medicines used by young adults (16-24 years old) in the UK were considered, in the light of existing schema and memory theory, to provide a concept of 'health repertories' for self-medication of minor ailments. Focus groups comprising a total of 48 young adults were conducted, followed by structured interviews with 76 young adults who visited a community pharmacy to purchase non-prescription medicines or to ask for advice, and case studies from this cohort. We propose that young adults develop a dynamic 'health repertory' of information for management of minor illness episodes, comprising a number of 'entries', and that these repertories are consistent with schema theory. Each 'repertory' includes description/labelling of symptoms, one or more self-medication strategies, and contingency plans (including formal health care intervention), if these strategies fail. Information in the repertory is drawn from both lay and professional channels.