This study reviews trends in the use of short-term and long-term methods of contraception in 13 developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It then measures population-level changes in met need (i.e. satisfied demand) for contraception as a function of wealth-related inequity. Finally, it explores relationships at the individual level between the type of contraceptive method used by a woman, her reproductive goals or intentions and her household wealth. Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data were obtained for 13 sub-Saharan African countries that were selected based on the following criteria: (i) having had at least two DHS surveys, one of them after 2000, and (ii) a rate of use of modern methods of contraception among married women, as ascertained by the most recent DHS, of at least 10.0%. For countries where three or more surveys had been conducted, we used data from the two most recent ones. All data analysed were collected between 1997 and 2006.