Prevalence of antibody to herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 was assessed in consecutive serum samples from a total of 3700 women pregnant in 1969, 1983, or 1989 from the same catchment area in Stockholm. There was little change in seroprevalence of antibody to herpes simplex type 1 in the 3 groups, but age-adjusted herpes simplex virus type 2 antibody prevalence was 19, 33, and 33% respectively. Increase in type 2 seropositivity with age was slight and similar in 1969 and 1989, but steep in 1983, indicating a shift in sexual behaviour. However, rising prevalence in women will be mirrored by rising prevalence in their male partners. The increase from 1969 to 1989 will thus partly be due to higher risk of infection per partner, and cannot be taken as direct evidence of increased rate of partner change during this 20-year period.