The study estimated and projected indicators of contraceptive prevalence and unmet need for family planning from 1990 to 2015. Data from nationally representative surveys, for women aged 15–49 years who were married or in a union. Estimates were based on 930 observations of contraceptive prevalence between 1950 and 2011 from 194 countries or areas, and 306 observations of unmet need for family planning from 111 countries or areas. The study found, worldwide contraceptive prevalence increased from 54·8% in 1990, to 63·3% in 2010, and unmet need for family planning decreased from 15·4% in 1990, to 12·3% in 2010. Trends in contraceptive prevalence and unmet need for family planning, and the projected growth in the number of potential contraceptive users indicate that increased investment is necessary to meet demand for contraceptive methods and improve reproductive health worldwide.