Questionnaires concerning ailments were sent postpartum (mean two years) to 62 women with anal sphincter ruptures (ASR), who were compared with a matched control population. The frequency of anal sphincter rupture at the hospital during delivery in the period, 1978-82, was 0.7% (n = 63). Primiparity, instrumental deliveries, abnormal presentation, large babies and oxytocin stimulation were all risk factors. Of 59 women answering the questionnaire 37 (63%) stated that they had had ailments three months postpartum, mainly with pain and involuntary passage of flatus but also with dyspareunia and occasional incontinence of faeces. Long-term symptoms were noted by 28 (48%) of the women, mainly with involuntary passage of flatus but also perineal pain, dyspareunia and occasional incontinence of faeces. Long-term symptoms occurred in 7 (88%) of women with ASR also involving the anal mucosa, but only in 21 (39%) of those with ASR only. Three of the patients subsequently underwent reconstructive surgery, and three complained of psychological problems.