The Iranian revolution put an end to the rule of the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, who had alienated powerful religious and political forces with a programme of modernisation and Westernisation.
January 1979 saw the US-supported Shah forced to leave the country after widespread demonstrations and strikes. On 1 February, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran following 14 years of exile in Iraq and France for opposing the regime.
GUIDANCE: This slideshow contains images that some readers may find upsetting.
Photos: Sipa Press / Rex Features (1978 - 1979)
Audio: BBC Archive
Simon Dring on the departure of the Shah of Iran, 16 January 1979. Harold Briley on the worsening situation in Teheran, 28 January 1979. Simon Dring on arrival of Ayatollah Khomeini in Teheran, 1 February 1979.
Publication date 2 February 2009. Produced by Emma Lynch.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.