OBJECTIVE: To determine the pattern of injuries sustained by taekwondo competitors, and how previous injury affects performance in sporting competition. METHODS: Competitors at a major New Zealand full-contact taekwondo tournament were given a comprehensive questionnaire immediately before competition. Self reports of injuries sustained through taekwondo in the previous 12 months were determined. RESULTS: No significant sex differences were found. The injury prevalence was high, but comparatively less than reported for other contact sports such as rugby football. However, one in 20 injuries was a closed head injury. No significant associations between prior injury and tournament outcome were found. CONCLUSIONS: Taekwondo can be a source of disabling injury. However, the fact that prior injury did not appear to be associated with impaired competition performance may militate against acceptance of control and regulation by competitors and coaches.