Data sources from the 1980s are used to examine the main features of Nigeria's population patterns and trends. Fertility has remained relatively constant up until very recently, when there has been evidence for a decline in fertility in the south of the country. In the north, fertility remains high, contraceptive use remains low, and women continue to marry at young ages. The mortality declines of the oil boom years are threatening to reverse, as economic crisis hits health services. Although there is some evidence of rising contraceptive knowledge and use in the south, certain features of Nigerian family structures militate against fertility decline. This situation is likely to change only through education and the transformation of women's status.