The relationship of arthritis and sexual dysfunction was investigated among 169 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and spondyloarthropathy, 130 of whom were pair-matched to controls. Assessments of marital happiness and depressed mood were also made using the CES-D and the Azrin Marital Happiness Scale (AMHS). Sexual dysfunctions were found to be common among patients and controls, the majority in both groups reporting one or more dysfunctions. Impotence was more common among male patients than controls and was found to be associated with co-morbidity and the taking of methotrexate. Depressed mood was more common among patients and was associated with certain sexual difficulties, but not with impotence. Marital unhappiness as indicated by AMHS scores, was not associated with arthritis but was associated with sexual dysfunction, sexual dissatisfaction and being female. © 1988 Acta Medica Belgica.