This article examines public perceptions of biobanks in Europe using a multi-method approach combining quantitative and qualitative data. It is shown that public support for biobanks in Europe is variable and dependent on a range of interconnected factors: people's engagement with biobanks; concerns about privacy and data security, and trust in the socio-political system, key actors and institutions involved in biobanks. We argue that the biobank community needs to acknowledge the impact of these factors if they are to successfully develop and integrate biobanks at a pan-European level. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.