The pattern of analgesic use, abuse and incidence of analgesic-associated nephropathy in 79 patients with chronic headache was studied. Sixty-eight of these patients had migraine. Most patients had consumed a combination of analgesics (81%) while 19% had taken single analgesics for their headache. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were the most commonly used analgesics (96.2%) followed by paracetamol (70.9%) and aspirin, phenacetin and caffeine compounds (5.1%). Mefenamic acid was the commonest nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug consumed (97.4%). Analgesic abuse which was defined as a minimum total of I kg of analgesics such as paracetamol or aspirin, phenacetin and caffeine compounds or 400 capsules/tablets of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs was noted in 65 patients. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were the most commonly abused analgesics (89.2%) followed by paracetamol (38.5%). Forty-five of the 65 analgesic abusers had an intravenous urogram or ultrasound performed and renal papillary necrosis was documented in one patient. Three (4.6%) of the analgesic abusers had mildly raised serum creatinine levels. Mild proteinuria of less than 1 gm/ litre was present in 27.7% of abusers. In conclusion, although analgesic use and abuse is common in patients with chronic headache, the short term incidence of analgesic-associated nephropathy (2.2%) and renal impairment (4.6%) was low. Prolonged observations will be necessary to ascertain the safety of these drugs for long term use.