OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether women's experiences of their first birth affects future reproduction. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. SETTING: South Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden. POPULATION: Six hundred and seventeen women who gave birth to their first child 1989-1992. METHODS: A global measure of women's experiences of their first birth, assessed two months postpartum, was available from a birth centre trial, together with information on a range of background variables. This information was linked to the Swedish Medical Birth Register, which included information on the number of subsequent births during the following 8-10 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of births (0 or > or =1) following the first birth. RESULTS: Women with a negative experience of their first birth had fewer subsequent children and a longer interval to the second baby (RR 1.7, 95% CI 1.3-2.3). Being 35 years and older (RR 2.6, 95% CI 1.6-3.7), or single (RR 2.6, 95% CI 1.7-3.9) was also associated with subsequent infertility. CONCLUSION: A negative birth experience was associated with subsequent infertility, and women's experiences should therefore be considered seriously in the provision of maternity care.