The incidence of ulcer perforation in 1480 patients treated in the Bergen area of Norway between 1935 and 1990 was analyzed for daily (circadian), weekly (circaseptan), and yearly (circannual) time effects. A circadian rhythm was found overall that was reproducible and fairly stable across seasons, decades, and days of the week. After subgrouping, a circadian rhythm was found in younger patients, males, and duodenal perforations, while a 12 h (circasemidian) rhythm characterized ulcer perforation for women and for gastric ulcers. Duodenal perforations showed highest incidence in the afternoon, while gastric perforations showed a major peak around noon and a secondary peak near midnight. For duodenal ulcer perforation, the circannual pattern was characterized by a 6-month rhythm, with significantly higher incidence in May-June-July and in November-December in most subgroups. A circaseptan rhythm was not found, but there was a significantly higher incidence on Thursday-Friday as compared to Sunday-Monday. The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the perforation of an ulcer thus seemed to show pronounced circadian and 6-month rhythmic variations, much less so circaseptan or circannual rhythms. While it is likely that exogenous environmental and/or societal factors play a significant role, variations in ulcer perforation may be related to endogenous biological rhythms in pathophysiological factors since the circadian pattern of duodenal perforation follows that for gastric acidity. Knowledge of the temporal patterns in peptic ulcer perforation and associated pathophysiologic factors should prove useful in optimizing the chronotherapeutic management of ulcer disease.