With migration, beta-thalassaemia has become a world health problem. Research into its nature and management is being performed in many countries. Where transfusion services are readily available, new intensive transfusion programmes are being attempted and result in better general health, and inhibition or delay in the onset of bone changes and hepatosplenomegaly. Intravenous and subcutaneous infusions of desferrioxamine now offer possible reduction in transfusional haemosiderosis. Prenatal diagnosis of beta-thalassaemia is now possible. Techniques for fetal blood sampling and laboratory investigation are being perfected in a number of centres.