The issue addressed in this study is whether the South African insolvency law provides adequate debt relief measures to deal with the growing problem of overindebtedness amongst individuals. Against the background of a historical and comparative investigation this study focuses on a critical evaluation of debt relief measures provided for by the Insolvency Act 24 of 1936 as well as the alternative measures outside the ambit of the Insolvency Act. Although it is not a prime object of the Insolvency Act to afford the individual debtor a discharge of pre-sequestration debts it is a consequence of sequestration after rehabilitation of the debtor. Nevertheless, sequestration followed by rehabilitation is not readily available as a debt relief measure. This can mainly be attributed to the advantage for creditors requirement that can be viewed as an impediment to obtaining a fresh start for many individual debtors. This is also the debtor's position regarding debt relief provided by the procedure of composition in terms of the Insolvency Act, as it is currently only available after sequestration As far as creditors' interests are concerned, the efficiency of this requirement may also be questioned as statistics indicate that the sequestration process is implemented in instances where doing so is not cost-effective. It is furthermore submitted that the current alternative debt relief measures provided for by South African law are inadequate and that the problems encountered in practice regarding friendly sequestrations can to a great extent be attributed to this fact. In order to reserve sequestration for extreme cases, insolvency law reform aimed at preventing implementation of the sequestration process when doing so is not cost-effective is recommended. However, it is emphasised that these recommendations should only be implemented if provision is made for an adequate alternative debt relief measure that would accommodate debtors whose estates do not justify a concursus creditorum. It is submitted that the administration procedure in terms of section 74 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 32 of 1944 should be adjusted to offer the required debt relief by inter alia affording the debtor a discharge of his debts. It is furthermore submitted that this procedure should be combined with the pre-liquidation composition proposed by the South African law commission and that the combined procedure should only be open for implementation if an informal arrangement, coupled with debt counselling, cannot be reached. As regards international guidelines for insolvency law reform it is contended that South Africa should follow the example of other systems by fully embracing the fresh start approach. With regard to rehabilitation in terms of the Insolvency Act it is submitted that the automatic rehabilitation of bona fide debtors after three years should be the point of departure. Regarding assets excluded from the insolvent estate recommendations aimed at enabling the debtor to continue his household as a social and economic unit are made. In the end, South African insolvency law reform should seek to find a balance between debtors' and creditors' interests. It is submitted that the current proposals for insolvency law reform will not achieve this objective.