A group of 60 housed Friesian cows were observed continuously for a period of 25 days, during which time all cows were recorded for incidence of mounting activity and 18 selected cows were recorded for various aspects of maintenance activity. All 60 cows were judged as showing oestrus. Average duration of oestrus (+/-SD) in 33 cows was 14-9 +/- 4-7 hours, and the cows were mounted 56-3 +/- 34-8 times. The greatest mounting activity was associated with the night hours. There was no diurnal pattern of onset of oestrus. The majority of mounting activity (79 per cent) occurred in the cubicle area of the building. Comparison of maintenance activities showed that oestrous cows spent, on average, less time standing in a cubicle (P less than 0-01), lying in a cubicle (P less than 0-001) and more time standing elsewhere (P less than 0-001) than non-oestrous cows. The results are discussed in relation to oestrus detection.