This research assessed the rate of affective disorder in 124 mothers of preschool children, which was found to be lower than in earlier studies, i.e. twelve per cent during the child-rearing years, and eight per cent in the year before interview. In half of those mothers who had an affective episode during the child-rearing years, its onset had predated the birth of the first child. The authors investigated sociodemographic and social support variables the relation to clinical and subclinical disturbance and found only modest associations. The apparent discrepancy between the present findings and those of previous research is discussed in relation to environmental and methodological factors.