In this study, we investigate whether financial reporting, using International Accounting Standards (IAS) results in quality disclosures, given differences in institutional and market forces across legal jurisdictions. This study contributes to the global accounting debate by utilizing U.S.-based companies complying with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (U.S. GAAP) as a benchmark for measuring the quality of IAS as applied by South Africa (S.A.) and United Kingdom (U.K.) companies. Although South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States are common law countries with strong investor protection, South Africa's institutional factors and market forces vary from that of the U.K. and the U.S. South Africa's financial market is less developed than that of the U.K. and the U.S. We compare the discretionary accruals of firms complying with U.S. GAAP to the discretionary accruals of U.K. and S.A. firms complying with IAS. This allows a comparison between companies (S.A. and U.K.) operating under different institutional factors and market forces that have adopted IAS versus U.S. companies that report under U.S. GAAP. Our sample, consisting of U.S., S.A., and U.K. listed firms, contains 3,166 firm-year observations relating to the period 1999-2001. The results of our study indicate that S.A firms utilizing IAS report absolute values of discretionary accruals that are significantly greater than absolute values of discretionary accruals of U.S. firms utilizing U.S. GAAP. In contrast, U.K. firms utilizing IAS report discretionary accruals that are significantly less than the discretionary accruals of companies in the United States reporting under U.S. GAAP. This study contributes to the literature by providing evidence of the quality of financial information prepared under IAS and its dependency on the institutional factors and market forces of a country. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.