A detailed study was made of the natural calling behaviour of male painted reed frogs in the wild. Comprehensive minute by minute records of the vocal activity of males calling simultaneously in the breeding chorus were generated over a 19-night period using a multi-channel event recorder. With few exceptions, the period over which males called either spanned or extended beyond the time window when females sought mates in the chorus. Males varied little in calling persistence and the majority produced advertisement calls during each minute of the calling period. Aggressive interactions between males curtailed advertisement call production but fights were short-lived, seldom repeated and limited to a small proportion (12.6%) of males. Call rate was independent of body size and varied widely among males active in the chorus at the same time and under the same environmental conditions. The relative call rate ranks of individuals were sustained over time. The call rates of mated males were high in relation to the rates of other males monitored in the chorus at, and prior to, the time of mating. Females usually preferred the higher of two call rate alternatives presented in a range of two-choice phonotaxis experiments.