A random community survey into psychiatric disorder among women in urban and rural New Zealand found urban women to be more often at age extremes, not married, better educated, in more paid employment, and to have better household and child-care facilities. There were no overall urban–rural differences in the GHQ-28 score, total PSE score or PSE case rates. A multiple regression found the same three factors accounted for most of the explained variance in both the urban and the rural total PSE scores: these were the quality of social networks, difficulties with alcohol, and the past experience of childhood sexual abuse. Low socioeconomic status, poor physical health, and adult experiences of sexual and physical abuse were also associated with increased psychiatric morbidity in both samples. Other individual sociodemographic items were correlated with psychiatric morbidity for the urban or rural sample only.