The aim of the present study was to test the hypotheses that parents' academic expectations, their perception of children's cognitive ability, and their degree of involvement at home and school would predict children's academic achievement, and that there would be important differences in this achievement as a consequence of differences in culture. A sample of 158 parents of students from three primary schools (two Chinese and one of Anglo-Celtic origin) in Hong Kong participated in this study. The three groups of parents differed in terms of both culture and socio-economic status. Parents completed a questionnaire about their perceptions of their children's memory ability, their involvement in their children's activities, and expected and satisfactory scores for their children's achievement in mathematics and language. Unstandardised achievement scores in mathematics and language were obtained from school records. Parents' expected scores in these two subjects were found to be the consistent predictors of achievement for all children. Parental belief in children's episodic memory and involvement at school were predictors of language achievement in one school. Copyright © 2007 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.