AIM: This paper reports a prospective evaluation of 59 dentine-bonded crowns placed in a dental school environment for patients, a majority of whom were suffering from tooth substance loss. RESULTS: Forty-eight crowns (83%) were available for examination, with their mean age since placement being 3.9 years. The mean age of the patients in whom the crowns were placed was 37.5 years. Three crowns had failed due to porcelain fractures, an overall failure rate of 6%. Two of the failures were minimal cracks of which the patient was unaware, and one, in an upper premolar tooth, because of crown fracture. No secondary caries was noted, incidence of pulp symptoms or pulp death was nil, and margins were rated as 'excellent' in 42 crowns (86%). CONCLUSION: The dentine bonded crowns assessed in this study showed excellent retention and low incidence of fracture at four years. This technique would appear to be suitable for a variety of clinical indications, including treatment of tooth substance loss, although the results presented in this study are relatively short term in relation to the anticipated life of restorations.