A wet and windy England in June 1997 was the venue for a two-day meeting co-sponsored by the Simon Foundation (USA), the Continence Foundation (UK) and the ICS Continence Promotion Committee. Forty-seven leading researchers and clinicians from around the world were invited to debate prevention of urinary incontinence. Ten presentations on different patient groups were followed by lively discussion and debate from the expert audience. A panel of eight members listened to the debate and developed a consensus statement on what we do know, what we do not know and priorities for future research. This statement will be available at the Continence Promotion Committee workshop on prevention at the ICS meeting in Yokohama, and a monograph of papers will be published later in 1997. Although we have little hard evidence on the effectiveness of prevention strategies at present, many risk factors warranting further investigation were identified. In cost-conscious health-care systems, with an ageing population, it is timely to start to address this issue. The co-chairs - Cheryle Gartley, Anita Saltmarche and Christine Norton - would like to thank Dr Alan Cottenden for his skill in chairing the discussions and Pharmacia and Upjohn for their vision in giving an educational grant for this project.