The behaviour of bereaved parents with respect to their drug and alcohol ingestion was examined 2 months following the loss of an infant from stillbirth (SB) neonatal death (NND) or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Responses from bereaved families (99 SB, 109 NND, 52 SIDS) were compared with 252 control families (who had a liveborn infant). There was no difference in self-medication using aspirin as the example. The use of sedative drugs was significantly higher in all bereaved mothers (but especially the SIDS group). Use of sedatives by fathers was significantly higher only in the SIDS group. There was also a greater frequency of heavy drinking of mothers in all the bereaved groups and fathers in the SIDS group. These results have implications for the understanding and care of families following infant loss.