Background Pre-hospital delays in patients experiencing acute coronary syndromes (ACS) remain unacceptably long. Aims To examine simultaneously a wide range of clinical, sociodemographic and situational factors associated with total pre-hospital delay and its two components. Methods Pre-hospital delay data were collected from 228 patients with ACS using patient's medical notes and semi-structured interviews. Total pre-hospital delay (symptom onset to hospital admission) was divided into 2 components: decision time (symptom onset to call for medical help), and home-to-hospital delay (call for help to hospital admission). Results Shorter total pre-hospital delays and decision times were associated with ST segment myocardial infarction (STEMI), recognizing symptoms as cardiac in origin, being married, symptom onset outside the home and the presence of a bystander. Shorter home-to-hospital delays were more likely among younger patients, those experiencing an STEMI, and patients reporting a greater number of symptoms. Initial contact with emergency medical services was related to shorter total delays and decision times. Conclusions Different factors were associated with shorter times in the 2 component phases. Greater understanding of the factors impacting on the component phases may help target interventions more effectively and reduce pre-hospital delays.