This article reports a comparative study of four 'specific' social movements which involve aspects of technological controversy: Fluoridation, the ABM, Nuclear Power Plants, and Legalized Abortion. A theoretical model of the rise and fall of public opposition in these movements over time is suggested. Quantitative indicators are developed and applied to this historical model. Rise and fall of controversy follows a regular sequence: Activities of protest leaders increase during periods of great national concern over issues that are complementary to the movement; during these periods, social and economic resources are relatively available to the movement. As the activity of protest leaders increases, mass media coverage of their activities increases. As mass media coverage increases, opposition to the technology among the wider public increases. As the activity of the leaders wanes, mass media coverage declines, and so does opposition among the wider public. The paper concludes with a discussion of the relevance of this perspective for making predictions about the future course of 'specific' social movements.