An epidemiologic case-control study to identify risk factors for acute prolapsed lumbar intervertebral disc was undertaken in Connecticut during 1979-1981. This paper focuses on nonoccupational factors of possible etiologic significance. Persons in their 30s were affected most frequently. Among surgical cases, the ratio of men to women was 1.5 to 1, while among probable and possible cases not undergoing surgery, the male to female ratio was about 1 to 1. Cigarette smoking in the past year was associated with an increased risk for prolapsed disc. The greater the number of hours spent in a motor vehicle, the higher the risk. Use of Swedish and Japanese cars was associated with a lower-than-average risk, while use of other cars was associated with a higher-than-average risk. For each type of car, older cars were associated with higher risks than newer cars. Variables that did not affect the risk for prolapsed lumbar disc in this study included height, weight, number of pregnancies, number of children, frequency of wearing shoes with high heels, smoking cigars or pipes, and participation in baseball or softball, golf, bowling, swimming, diving from a board, tennis, bicycling or jogging.