We report 33 patients with the solitary rectal ulcer syndrome seen between 1975 and 1982. Twenty-four were women and the median age was 32 years. The principal symptoms were bleeding (89 per cent), chronic constipation (64 per cent), rectal pain (42 per cent), tenesmus (42 per cent), and mucous discharge (45 per cent). Twenty-eight patients gave a history of straining (85 per cent). A full-thickness rectal prolapse was present in six patients, an anterior rectal prolapse was observed in 11, and 12 patients had clinical evidence of perineal descent. Defecation was only possible by digital evaluation in six women, and three male patients were passive homosexuals. Manometric studies were performed on 16 patients; eight patients were unable to tolerate rectal distention with 200 cc of air and impaired rectal sensation was present in two. Rectal distention was associated with bursts of involuntary external sphincter activity in three patients, and the distention reflex was absent in six, despite normal ganglia on rectal biopsy. In only four patients was there electromyographic evidence of contraction of the puborectalis during attempted defecation. Fourteen patients were treated by rectopexy; healing of the ulcer occurred in five of six with a full-thickness prolapse compared with only two of eight without a complete prolapse.