Much has been written by important sociocultural theorists about the role played by risk in late modern societies, and some, like Beck and Giddens, have ventured to contend that industrial society is turning into 'risk society'. Little empirical research has been conducted, however, that has sought to examine the speculations of grand theories about 'risk society'. This article discusses findings from an Australian interview-based study that sought to elicit the participants' understandings of the notion of risk. Three major issues from the interviews are examined: the ways in which the participants defined 'risk', the risks they nominated as most threatening to themselves and those they saw as threatening Australians in general. The findings reveal that the 'risk society' thesis was supported in some ways. Other findings, however, challenged this thesis, including the participants' critique of government's role in protecting its citizens from risk, the ways in which many of them represented risk-taking as positive, their relative inattention to environmental risk and the role played by such factors as gender, age and sexual identity in structuring risk perceptions.