Background: Given the low rates of physical activity participation, innovative intervention approaches are needed to make a public health impact. Methods: The study was conducted at the Miriam Hospital/Brown Medical School in Providence, RI, and in communities of Southeastern Massachusetts from 2002 to 2005. Previously sedentary women (n = 280; mean age = 47.1; 94.6% Caucasian) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) Choose to Move, a self-help printed booklet (n = 93), (2) Jumpstart, a motivationally tailored, print based intervention (n = 95); or (3) Wellness, women's health materials (n = 92). Face-to-face contact at months 3 (M3) and 12 (M12) occurred within participants' communities in local libraries. Results: At M3, participants in the Jumpstart condition reported significantly more minutes of physical activity per week (M = 140.4, SE = 14.82) than participants in the Wellness condition (M = 98.1, SE = 15.09), (t(275) = 2.00, p < 0.05). The Jumpstart arm showed a trend towards significance (t(275) = 1.93, p = 0.054) when compared with the CTM arm (M = 99.5, SE = 15.11); there was no significant difference between the CTM and Wellness arms (t(275) = 0.07, p = NS). At M12, there were no significant differences (F(2,275) = 0.147, p = NS) between any of the treatment arms. Conclusions: Results suggest that print-based programs for physical activity may be efficacious short-term, but more research is needed to find approaches that are effective long-term. It is possible to deliver print-based programs through existing community infrastructures, however these approaches need further evaluation to examine maintenance effects apart from the demand characteristics of a research study. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.