Summary Female pattern hair loss is a common condition characterized by a diffuse reduction in hair density over the crown and frontal scalp with retention of the frontal hairline. The prevalence increases with advancing age. It has been widely thought to be the female counterpart of male balding and is often referred to as female androgenetic alopecia. However, the role of androgens is not fully established. Scalp hair loss is undoubtedly a feature of hyperandrogenism in women but many women with female pattern hair loss have no other clinical or biochemical evidence of androgen excess. Female pattern hair loss is probably a multifactorial genetically determined trait and it is possible that both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent mechanisms contribute to the phenotype. In managing patients with female pattern hair loss the physician should be aware that the adverse effects on quality of life can be quite severe and do not necessarily correlate with the objective degree of hair loss. The treatment options are currently limited but modest improvements in hair density are achievable in some women.