Recent trends in reported primary genital syphilis and genital ulcer disease (GUD) were assessed in Burkina Faso using incidence data reported to the Ministry of Health. From 1978 to 1983 the yearly reports of genital syphilis and GUD rose by 42%. A single period moving average was calculated for each consecutive 13-week period from 1978 to 1983, documenting an average 7% rise per year. Severe limitations in the Ministry of Health of personnel and other resources for surveillance were noted and no improvements in surveillance methods were evident during this study. The rising trend suggests a growing problem of ulcerative sexually transmitted diseases, which may, in turn, facilitate infection with sexually acquired human immunodeficiency virus, coincident with the expansion of this epidemic in Africa. Syphilis complications are also almost certain to include adverse pregnancy outcome due to maternal syphilis. The rising trend in genital syphilis and GUD, and the probable increase in associated adverse sequellae, require that prevention and control of sexually transmitted diseases should be made a high priority.