In a study of families of children with Down's syndrome, measures of parent, family and child characteristics were obtained from mothers and fathers. Multivariable analyses investigated their relationships to outcome measures of psychosomatic symptoms of stress and parents' perceived satisfaction with life. Personality factors were related to outcome for both parents. For mothers, the children's levels of behaviour problems, excitability and self-sufficiency were strongly related to outcome. Coping strategies, family relationships and socio-economic factors also showed significant effects. For fathers, child characteristics were not related to outcome. The marital relationship was an important factor and there was evidence that factors external to the family acted as stressors.