About half of the 67 adults admitted to a burn treatment unit during the course of a year were found to have pre-existing physical and/or psychiatric conditions that increased their susceptibility to injury. In addition, the majority of victims were unmarried, unemployed, and came from low social class, circumstances that tended to increase their vulnerability. A significant increase in stressful life events was reported by these patients during the year preceding burn injury. This life change was negatively correlated with age, income, and number of friends, and positively correlated with social class and psychiatric illness. Two subgroups of persons vulnerable to burns were identified, the first, older women with physical illness, and the second, persons of low social class with psychiatric disorders. The findings have implications for burn prevention and rehabilitation of burn victims.