In practice it seems that the identification of impending failure is a much more gradual process than appears to be implied by discriminant and similar models. This paper, after examining the methodological problems associated with such research and reviewing previous work in this area, reports the behaviour of share price relatives of 20 British companies which failed between 1960 and 1971. It appears that on average analysts began to perceive a fum's financial difficulties some five years prior to bankruptcy, which would seem to support the view that the market refers to a broad data set in assessing a company's solvency position.