How can we improve recruitment to trials? In their recently published paper, Healy et al. outline the top 10 prioritised questions for trial recruitment research identified by the PRioRiTy study. The challenge now is for researchers to answer these questions; but how best can these be answered? In this commentary, we illustrate how qualitative research can be utilised to generate in-depth insight into trial recruitment issues, either as a stand-alone methodology, or through a mixed-methods approach. Consideration is given to how different forms of qualitative research can be used to address these priorities and to help researchers set out an agenda to optimise its value.