Early amniocentesis between 11 and 14 weeks' gestation was offered to 110 women at risk of a chromosomally abnormal fetus due to maternal age. Four were found to be unsuitable for the procedure, and 106 early amniocenteses were performed. In 102 cases, clear amniotic fluid was obtained with a single tap. There were two dry taps and two bloodstained taps; sampling was repeated in three of these cases before 15 weeks. In the fourth case, placental biopsy was performed at 16 weeks. Thus, we were able to obtain a satisfactory sample in all but three cases (2.8 per cent). Karyotyping of cells harvested from the early amniotic fluid samples was successful in all the 105 cases. Cell culture from the initial samples revealed a normal karyotype in 99 cases, two balanced translocations, two tetraploid karyotypes, and two cases of pseudomosaicism. Of the 105 pregnancies successfully sampled, there have been two losses to date (1.8 per cent). Two further patients presented with premature rupture of membranes, both pregnancies having successful outcomes. Sixty-two babies have delivered to date, with four congenital anomalies. There were no respiratory problems. Twenty-nine pregnancies are continuing without known complications, and details are not yet available on the remaining 12. The results indicate that early amniocentesis may replace the traditional test at 15-17 weeks.