The relationship between father-absence and academic achievement in children was studied in a sample of 80 urban children of predominantly lower social status. Differences between the father-absent and father-present groups in IQ and family background were controlled by matching. Boys and girls from father-present homes were found to score higher on standardized reading tests than children from father-absent homes, regardless of the child's age when the father became absent. Mediating variables by which father-absence may exert its influence (achievement motivation, absenteeism, parental attitudes, sex-role identity, life stress) were also examined. Contrary to predictions, children from father-absent homes scored higher on achievement motivation measures than children from intact homes. Girls from father-absent homes missed more school and scored lower on tests of "masculinity" than girls raised in father-present homes. No other mediating variables exerted a significant influence on the results. These data are discussed in the light of the "confluence" theory of cognitive development.