The effects of quenched disorder on the critical properties of itinerant quantum magnets are considered. Particular attention is paid to locally ordered rare regions that are formed in the presence of quenched disorder even when the bulk system is still in the nonmagnetic phase. It is shown that these local moments or instantons destroy the previously found critical fixed point in the case of antiferromagnets. In the case of itinerant ferromagnets, the critical behavior is unaffected by the rare regions due to an effective long-range interaction between the order parameter fluctuations. © 1999 The American Physical Society.