The striking variation in prevalence, approaching 30% in individuals over the age of 60 years in Norway, is strong evidence for an inherited susceptibility to Dupuytren's disease. In many pedigrees, inheritance appears to follow the autosomal dominant model. Other modes of inheritance are consistent with the data, however, and it remains unclear whether the many apparently sporadic cases have a genetic basis. The inherited susceptibility may influence tissue's sensitivity to the effects of environmental exposures. High prevalence, late age of onset, and the possibility of nongenetic cases are features of Dupuytren's disease that complicate genetic studies, as can be seen from estimates of relative risk. Identification of susceptibility loci is a worth-while goal as it may throw entirely new light on the nature of Dupuytren's disease and ultimately may open avenues to new treatments.