PURPOSE: Studies done in Western societies have described characteristics of infant crying behavior. These include:crying peak in the second month, diurnal rhythm (typified by clustering during evening hours) and crying that is robust to differences in caretaking styles. This survey was undertaken to compare the crying patterns of Korean babies with those of their Western counterparts. METHOD: From June 1995 to March 1996, well babies, ranging from 16 days to 6 1/2 months of age, were selected at the pediatric clinic of Ewha Womans University Hospital. The Crying Pattern Questionnaire (CPQ) of St. James-Roberts was modified and then translated in Korean. Full-time mothers of the infants were asked to fill out the CPQ. RESULTS: Average crying durations of the 436 infants ranged from 34.3 to 54.5 minutes a day. However, no correlation could be found between average crying duration and age. Evening clustering of crying was found only in the 4-month-old group. Infants that were 3, 4, 5 months old had similar evening crying durations. No infant in the survey cried more than 3 hours a day. The most common response by mothers to the crying was 'feeding'. Even though 60% of the mothers said they felt 'anger' when their babies cried, more than half responded that they 'never' left their crying babies alone. The longer the crying duration, the more mothers felt anger and the more they sought outside help. It was found that crying durations tended to be shorter in an extended family environment where more family members (e.g. grandparents) are present, than in a nuclear family setting. CONCLUSIONS: Crying patterns of Korean infants are quite different from what has been described in the Western literature. This difference could be ascribed to mothers' attitudes, especially in terms of the type of response they might have toward their babies crying. Further study using infants from a wide range of cultural backgrounds is needed.