In June 1979 legislation was enacted in New South Wales to restrict the sale of compound analgesics. The consequences of this legislation were assessed by a household survey in Newcastle, New South Wales, during November 1979. This survey followed an identical survey in the same community in November 1977. After legislation, a marked decrease was found in the proportion of homes having compound analgesics. A small decrease in total analgesic usage was also observed, though this was not necessarily related to the legislative restrictions. The legislative restrictions did not result in any substantial increase in use of the doctor to obtain prescriptions for compound analgesics, or any substantial increase in reported health problems. The results suggest that legislation is an effective method of inducing rapid change in health-related behavior.