It is customary to assume that income is redistributed between the sexes within the family. This article investigates alternative assumptions about sharing within the family and their effects on the distribution of income. Using data from the UK Family Expenditure Survey for 1968 and 1986, we contrast two assumptions about sharing within the family; the conventional assumption of equal sharing or ‘pooling’, and an alternative of ‘minimum sharing’. Under each assumption, we examine the composition of extreme quintiles of the income distribution, and compute the numbers of men and women falling below an arbitrary ‘poverty line’. The contribution to inequality of the net transfers between the sexes and other sources of income is also examined. We estimate that resource transfers (other than for housing) between spouses could, if all income is pooled, account for about one third of married couples’ pooled incomes in 1986 and about 56 per cent of the inequality of married women's incomes (in 1968, 56 per cent and 50 per cent respectively). Taking the bottom quintile of pooled income as an arbitrary ‘poverty line’, we calculate that 15 per cent of married people would have been below this line in 1986 if all incomes were pooled. On the minimum sharing assumption, 52 per cent of married women, but only 11 per cent of married men would have been under the line.