Abstract We studied 1160 consecutive craniofacial injuries sustained by unhelmeted motorbike riders in Taipei, Taiwan, between 1990 and 1993, in order to investigate the distribution, type and severity of these injuries. The average age of the victims was 31 years (SD 13.2), with 84 per cent of them being between ages 16 and 45. The facial and cranial areas were defined as being separated by the line between eyebrows and ears. The incidence of facial injuries was the same as that of cranial injuries (both 68 per cent). While facial injuries occurred most often in the cheek and chin, most cranial injuries occurred in the forehead and parietal region. Although the majority of facial injuries resulted in mild brain injuries, they may also cause serious cosmetic problems, and some were associated with serious brain damage. Motorbike riders need good face protection. Since most motorbikes in Taipei travel relatively slowly, these results may also apply to bicyclists; in other words, cyclists may also need good face protection.