Establishing a clear definition of ‘paternal involvement’ is important in light of debates about what the concept means and how it might be measured. The debates about how to conceptualise ‘paternal involvement’ in childcare are reviewed in the first section of this article. I demonstrate how Lamb et al’s (1987) three dimensions of paternal involvement – accessibility, engagement and responsibility – continue to provide a comprehensive way of summarising a plethora of parental activities that are not bound by time, locality or age of child. The second section of this article discusses some of the key policy, workplace and individual factors that interact to shape and influence the three dimensions of involvement. Using Sen’s (1992) capabilities framework, I argue that while fathers may have the motivation and desire to be an involved parent, structural and individual factors often hinder their capabilities to be involved.