Objective: This study assessed renters' preferences for official smoking policies in their buildings and their practices concerning restricting tobacco smoking in their apartments. Design: Renters (n = 301) living in large apartment complexes in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, completed a mail survey. Main outcome measures: The survey asked about the official smoking policies in place in their apartment buildings, their preferences for policies, whether they had smelled tobacco smoke coming into their apartments from without, and, if so, what they had done about it. Results: The majority of non-smokers (79%) preferred that their building be smoke-free. When asked to identify the current smoking policy in their buildings, residents disagreed substantially. Most renters (60%) reported smoke-free policies in their own apartments and another significant proportion (23%) restricted smoking to certain areas or occasions or persons. 75% thought that enforcing a smoke-free policy for guests would not be difficult. 53% of those in non-smoking households had smelled tobacco smoke in their apartments; most of these reported being bothered by it. However, very few complained to the building owner or manager (15.5%) or to the smoker (6.9%). Conclusions: The majority of non-smokers preferred that their buildings be smoke-free. A failure to report problems to apartment managers might be an impediment to instituting smoke-free policies in apartment buildings. The considerable disagreement among residents within apartment complexes about the current official smoking policy in their buildings suggests that policies are lacking or are not well communicated.