The aim of this study was to investigate the rate of bacterial vaginosis in women attending an inner-city family planning clinic for intrauterine device (IUD) insertion. In a population of 86 women, eight (9.3%) and 20 (23.2%) were found to have bacterial vaginosis according to the criteria of Amsel and Nugent, respectively. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values were calculated in relation to bacterial vaginosis for Amsel's criteria. The detection of clue cells demonstrated excellent sensitivity (85%). Positive amine test and vaginal discharge demonstrated poor sensitivity (50% and 55%, respectively). Our results suggest that Gram staining of vaginal specimens may be of use to identify the presence of bacterial vaginosis prior to IUD insertion.