The aims of this systematic literature review are to estimate termination rates after prenatal diagnosis of one of five conditions: Down syndrome, spina bifida, anencephaly, and Turner and Klinefelter syndromes, and to determine the extent to which rates vary across conditions and with year of publication. Papers were included if they reported (i) numbers of prenatally diagnosed conditions that were terminated, (ii) at least five cases diagnosed with one of the five specified conditions, and (iii) were published between 1980 and 1998. 20 papers were found which met the inclusion criteria. Termination rates varied across conditions. They were highest following a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome (92 per cent; CI: 91 per cent to 93 per cent) and lowest following diagnosis of Klinefelter syndrome (58 per cent; CI: 50 per cent to 66 per cent). Where comparisons could be made, termination rates were similar in the 1990s to those reported in the 1980s. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.