Recurrent intentional injury (RII) is a phenomenon that is often noted by those who treat the injured. The authors have observed two groups of assault-related injured patients at the District of Columbia General Hospital Level I urban trauma center to determine the magnitude of this phenomenon in the patient population, to examine the characteristics of such a group of patients, and to identify the risk factors that predispose to repeated assault-related injuries. In a retrospective group of 232 patients admitted over a 4-year period who had sustained penetrating abdominal trauma there were 76 (33%) patients who had been previously treated at our center for assault-related injury. A prospective study of 78 consecutive assault-related injured patients admitted during a 4-month period revealed that 35 patients (45%) had a history of previous hospitalization for injuries as a result of assault. Within the male group (72 patients) 49% exhibited RII. When comparing this group of patients with those patients who had no previous injuries secondary to assault, there was a significantly higher rate of unemployment for the RII group and no difference in educational level. Also, the RII group incurred significantly higher hospital charges when compared to the group of patients who had their first of such injuries ($9673 versus $6973). Efforts to reduce unemployment should be included in preventive strategies if the high incidence of assault-related injury is to be decreased.