The WHO/EURO multicentre study on parasuicide is a new, coordinated, multinational, European study that covers two broad areas of research: monitoring trends in the epidemiology of parasuicide (epidemiological monitoring study); and follow-up investigations of parasuicide populations, with a view to identifying the social and personal characteristics predictive of future suicidal behaviour (repetition prediction project). This article provides background information on the development and organization of the multicentre study, and presents selected findings from the epidemiological monitoring project, based on a preliminary examination of data collected in 15 centres on parasuicides aged 15 years and over treated in health facilities in defined catchment areas during the year 1989. The overall parasuicide incidence varied considerably across the centres, from a high (event) rate of 414 per 100,000 males in Helsinki to a low of 61 among males in Leiden. The highest female event rate was 595 in Pontoise, and the lowest 95 in Guipuzcoa. The mean event rate across all centres was 167 among males and 222 among females. Parasuicide incidence tended to be elevated among 15- to 34-year-olds, with lowest rates among those aged 55 years and over. With one exception (Helsinki), the female parasuicide rate was higher than the male rate, the F:M ratio ranging from 0.71:1 to 2.15:1, with a median of 1.5:1 (events). Short-term repetition rates (as measured by the event:person ratio) differed between centres, from 1.03 to 1.30 (median = 1.12) among males, and from 1.07 to 1.26 (median = 1.13) among females. Although we warn against generalizing from our findings to make statements about differences in parasuicide between countries, we argue that the differences between centres are valid and should be addressed in further research.