To describe the use of induced abortion (IA) in Asturias after its legalisation as well as the socio-demographic characteristics of women applying for abortion. Descriptive study, population-based, using data collected by the regional abortion surveillance system for the period 1988 1994. The number of IA and the abortion rate (AR) (10 per 1000 women aged 15-49) have been stable in Asturias during the study period. The highest ARs were found for women in the age group 20-34, for divorced/separated, for women with a higher educational level and for women with only one child. The proportion of pregnancies which ended in abortion was one in four; for teenagers and women over 34 years it was one in two. This proportion was also higher for women not married, students and women with two or more children. Ninety-eight percent of all abortions took place in private clinics, the woman's physical/mental health being the medical indication for these abortions. Abortion was most often performed within eight weeks of gestation (65%). Late abortion ocurred more frequently among teenagers and women of low educational level. Eighteen percent of women had repeated abortions. A high proportion (61%) of women applying for abortion had not used the Family Planning (FP) services in the previous two years; adolescents and women of low educational level had the lowest frequencies of FP use. Compared with that of other European countries, the AR in Asturias was intermediate. The results regarding adolescents show the need for evaluation and promotion of sex education and contraceptive programmes. The lower and later use of abortion by women of low educational level shows inequalities that call for specific action.