Objectives Several trials to test the efficacy of a pharmacological intervention aimed at primary prevention of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are ongoing or have recently been completed. A common issue in these trials is the severe difficulty with patient recruitment. In order to enhance recruitment, this qualitative study identified barriers and facilitators of individuals at risk of RA to participate in a prevention trial. Methods Individuals at risk of developing RA (ie, arthralgia with anticitrullinated protein antibodies and/or rheumatoid factor without arthritis), who had previously been asked to participate in a prevention trial, participated in focus group discussions (n=18) exploring their facilitators and barriers for trial participation. Thematic analysis identified factors that were important in at-risk individuals' decision about trial participation. Results The prospect of personal benefit, the acknowledgement of one's symptoms and the desire to contribute to society facilitated trial participation. In contrast, misconception about what it means to be at risk, or about the aim of the prevention trial, negative views on trial medication, and a low perceived urgency to act on the possibility of developing RA versus a high perceived burden of participating in a trial discouraged participation. Conclusions To enhance inclusion in trials aimed to prevent RA, the results suggest to use strategies such as optimising education about RA, personal risk, trial aim and trial medication, explicitly addressing misconceptions and concerns, using tools to improve information provision, limiting study burden in trial design and encouraging physicians to mention trial participation.