Objectives To determine whether students' knowledge of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and their usage rate of special reproductive health units can be improved by means of a thorough continuing education programme including peer education (PE) and reproductive health counselling. Methods A 'before and after intervention' study was conducted. A questionnaire was applied to first year university students both at the beginning and at the end of the academic year 2005-2006. Out of 5236 students, 1716 and 1311 were evaluated in the first and second surveys, respectively. Numerous educational approaches and methods were utilized in the course of the study. The chi-square and Mann-Whitney U tests were used for statistical analyses. Results The knowledge scores of reproductive function, sexually transmitted infections and contraception increased by 17.4%, 10.0% and 11.9%, respectively. The total knowledge score increased by 10.2%. The usage of primary care units increased by 18.1%. Conclusions SRH issues are difficult to talk about and to discuss openly. A comprehensive approach seems to have some efficacy to overcome this problem and provide information on SRH. Young people benefit from educational programmes implemented in their own social environment particularly via the PE method.