Background : Several regions such as Zambia in sub-Saharan Africa experience very high levels of sterility. Current explanations for high levels of sterility in Zambia have focused on biological determinants and have paid little attention to the plausible effects of social determinants of sterility. Aim : This study has two objectives. The first objective is to examine the extent of sterility in Zambia during 1980 and 1990. The second objective is to assess the contribution of selected social determinants to the current levels of sterility in Zambia. Subjects and methods : Sterility among women in Zambia is calculated for two periods in 1980 and 1990 using census data. The study used parity progression ratios for the calculation of sterility rates. Selected social determinants of Zambian sterility were obtained from the Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS). Net effects of selected social determinants were examined using logistic regression. Results : High sterility levels were found in a few Zambian Provinces. During 1980 and 1990, the rates for North Western, Eastern and Western provinces remained considerably higher than for other Zambian provinces. It was found that social level variables remained strong and significant even after controlling for the effects of incidence of biological factors such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Conclusions : The findings of the study support the importance of developing social policies for eradicating sterility. The argument that sterility is biological and that it is not amenable to social interventions perhaps needs revision in the light of the findings of this study.