A radiological study of 50 patients with thoracic Scheuermann's disease revealed two types of lateral spinal curvature. A total of 43 lateral curves was present in 35 of the patients. Thirteen were apical at the same level as the Scheuermann's kyphosis and were due to vertebral-body wedging in the coronal plane; these curves had a mean Cobb angle of 15 degrees, occurred with equal prevalence in boys and girls and were directed equally to right and left. Thirty curves occurred in regions of compensatory lordosis (mean 5.6 degrees) situated above or, more commonly, below the Scheuermann's kyphosis. These scolioses had a mean Cobb angle of 16 degrees, were more often convex to the right than to the left and were significantly more prevalent in girls than in boys. The presence of these kyphoses and scolioses in the same spine, separated by only a few vertebrae, emphasises the importance of the sagittal plane in idiopathic spinal deformities and strongly suggests that idiopathic scoliosis and Scheuermann's disease share a common pathological process.