During the first six months of 1986, 294 consecutive victims of assault were examined to determine the patterns of injury. Forty-three victims were women aged 15-46 years (mean: 25 years). In comparison with the hospital catchment population, the unemployed were over-represented and the greater than 40 age range under-represented. Facial injury, especially bruising, was extremely common, affecting 88% of women and 84% of men. Some 56% of women had sustained a fracture compared to only 26% of men but facial lacerations were uncommon in female victims. Assailants were known to 75% of female victims, but only 25% of men, and females were four times more likely to be assaulted at home. 33% of women reported previous assault in comparison with 44% of men. Oral and maxillofacial staff should understand the likely social implications and be able to organise management of assault victims of which women form an important subgroup. Management may involve social workers and psychiatrists as well as other members of the family.