A life events scale for research into Xhosa speaking people of Cape Town was developed. It was standardised on 131 residents of Cape Town's three major Black suburbs. Measures of perceived impact and rate of occurrence were elicited. The Spearman Rank correlation between prevalence and impact scores was not significant (r=0.04). Items were ranked according to composite impact scores. Cultural and social factors were considered to play a part in explaining differences between the present findings and those of other studies. Limitations on the applicability of the scale and methodological issues were discussed. The problems in direct comparison between different cultural groups were emphasized, with particular stress on constraints on life events research in an African setting. © 1983.