Huntington's chorea imposes a direct imprint on the life of the spouse of the affected patient. Interviews with 15 wives of patients with Huntington's chorea revealed that none of them knew prior to marriage of the presence of a heritable disease within the husband's family. When informed of the diagnosis, the wife reacted with disbelief and denial. As she became aware of the steady progression of the disease and the threat of transmission to her children, her response changed to resentment and hostility. The disease permeated the entire life of the unaffected spouse: her life style, family responsibility, goals, and marital relationship. In essence, the wife became inextricably involved in the disease and suffered continuous trauma from it.