In a cross-sectional questionnaire study the influence of psychological job strain and nine other factors on the occurrence of accidents at work were examined. Data were collected by a national survey of nursing personnel in Germany. The sample of this study consists of 874 nurses working in acute care hospitals. Job strain was operationalised according to Karasek's demand-control model and measured by a self-developed questionnaire. 32 % had experienced at least one accident during the 12 months preceding the survey (mostly accidental cuts or needle punctures). No association with accident risk was found for age, sex, professional status (supervising function) and hours of overtime work. The six factors significantly associated with accident risk in univariate analyses were entered into a logistic regression model: high job strain, working in a functional unit (e. g. laboratory), full-time work, less than 3 years of occupation in the present department, having children of less than 3 years of age and being a single parent. In the multivariate analyses high job strain turned out to be the most important risk factor for occupational accidents (odds ratio: 2.4, 95 % C.I.: 1.7-3.3). Significantly elevated risks were found for full-time work, less than 3 years of occupation in the present department and being a single parent (odds ratios between 1.5 and 1.8). Having at least one child of less than 3 years of age was a protective factor (odds ratio 0.5, 95-% C.I.: 0.4-0.8).