Hospitalisations for ambulatory care-sensitive (ACS) conditions are used as an indicator of access to, and the quality of, primary care. The objective was to identify factors associated with hospitalisations for ACS conditions among adults with an intellectual disability (ID) in the context of a publicly insured healthcare system. This study examined adults with an ID living in a Canadian province between 1999 and 2003 identified from administrative databases. Using 5 years of data for the study population, characteristics of persons hospitalised or not hospitalised for ACS conditions were compared. Using a conceptual model, independent variables were selected and an analysis performed to identify which were associated with hospitalisations for ACS conditions. The correlated nature of the observations was accounted for statistically. Living in a rural area [odds ratio (OR) 1.3; 95% confidence intervals (CI) = 1.0, 1.8], living in an area with a high proportion of First Nations people (OR 2.3; 95% CI = 1.3, 4.1), and experiencing higher levels of comorbidity (OR 25.2; 95% CI = 11.9, 53.0) were all associated with a higher likelihood of being hospitalised for an ACS condition. Residing in higher income areas had a protective effect (OR 0.56; 95% CI = 0.37, 0.85). None of the health service resource variables showed statistically significant associations. Persons with an ID experience inequity in hospitalisations for ACS conditions according to rurality, income and proportion who are First Nations in a geographic area. This suggests that addressing the socio-economic problems of poorer areas and specifically areas densely populated by First Nations people may have an impact on the number of hospitalisations for ACS conditions. Study strengths and limitations and areas for potential future research are discussed. © 2012 The Authors. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.