In a prospective five-year study, 294 episodes of acute transient synovitis of the hip were diagnosed in 275 children. The average annual incidence was 0.2% and the accumulated risk of suffering at least one episode was 3%. The risk of recurrence was 20 times greater than the risk of having a single episode. Perthes' disease was diagnosed from one to five months after the acute attack of synovitis in 10 cases (3.4%). Review of the initial radiographs revealed signs of avascular necrosis in three of the 10 cases, and an increased joint space in five. Only two cases had had completely normal radiographs. The value of routine radiographs taken after three months was minimal. Factors associated with the incidence of Perthes' disease included prolonged time in traction before the range of hip movement became normal, increase in joint space on the initial radiographs and the recurrence of hip symptoms after initial relief.