OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of postpartum thyroiditis (PPT), one of the autoimmune disorders of the thyroid which usually occurs in women in the first year after parturition. PPT presents with periods of transient thyrotoxicosis and hypothyroidism, in many cases resulting in permanent hypothyroidism. DESIGN: The study involved 1040 mothers who had contacted five health centers in Tehran for vaccination of their children. METHODS: Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism and thyrotoxicosis, and the presence of goiter (using the World Health Organization classification), were sought. Serum T3, T4, TSH, anti-TPO and anti-Tg antibodies were measured at 3, 4.5, 6 and 9 months after parturition. In those with hypothyroidism or thyrotoxicosis and a matched group of normal women, thyroid sonography was performed. RESULTS: The prevalence of thyroiditis was 11.4%. Hypothyroidism and thyrotoxicosis occurred in 68 and 42 mothers respectively. Nine had thyrotoxicosis followed by hypothyroidism. There was one case of Graves' disease. Out of 68 hypothyroid patients, 33 women underwent treatment with levothyroxine (because of the severity of symptoms) for 12 months. Six women showed increased TSH at 6 weeks after discontinuation of thyroxine. Stage II goiter (World Health Organization classification) were observed in 21.8% of patients and in 6.7% of pospartum euthyroid women (P<0.001). Positive anti-TPO was found in 61.5% of patients and in 19% of the control group; positive anti-Tg was found in 58% of patients and in 6% of the control group (P<0.001). Sonographic changes were observed in 96% of the patients and in 7% of the control group (P<0.001). There was no significant correlation between the occurrence of thyroiditis and parity, the age of the mother, a previous history of thyroid disease in the patient or family, breast-feeding, or the gender of the child. CONCLUSION: The results of this study show a high prevalence of PPT in Tehranian women. This may be due to the length and frequency of follow-up and/or the transition from low to adequate iodine intake. The major difference with respect to other studies is the low frequency of the biphasic form of PPT.