BACKGROUND Hairdressers constitute a major occupational group of female workers who are exposed to chemicals that cause reproductive abnormalities in animal models. The purpose of this study was to examine whether hairdressers are at increased risk of premature ovarian failure (POF) compared with women of similar age in other occupations. METHODS This study analyzed data from a population-based sample of 443 hairdressers and 508 women in other occupations, who responded to a mailed survey. POF was assessed in all eligible participants by self-report of a doctor's diagnosis. RESULTS Among 443 hairdressers and 508 women in other occupations, 14 (3.2%) and 7 (1.4%) developed POF, respectively. A non-significant increase in the risk of POF was observed among hairdressers compared with non-hairdressers (adjusted relative risk (RR) 1.90; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.76, 4.72). When limited to Caucasian women only (approximately 85% of respondents), the increased risk was statistically significant (RR 3.24; 95% CI 1.06, 9.91). Among Caucasian women of 40-55 years of age, hairdressers were more than five times as likely to report POF compared with non-hairdressers (RR 5.58; 95% CI 1.24, 25.22). CONCLUSIONS Hairdressers may be at increased risk for POF compared with women employed in other occupations.