This household survey of 713 adults residing in nine rural Middle Tennessee counties was conducted to estimate the prevalence of psychiatric impairment in the rural population, to determine which groups in the population are characterized by higher levels of impairment, and to assess the validity of three indices of psychiatric impairment (HOS, CES-D, and GWB). The data indicate that approximately 12% of the rural population may be impaired and that impairment is most likely among females, the divorced, widowed, or separated, and those in lower socioeconomic strata. While depression was more common among the young, physical and psychosomatic complaints were more common among older respondents. Further, respondents classified as impaired by the indices tended to view themselves as having "substantial" or "major" problems and were likely to feel that they might require professional help. While the GWB appeared to discriminate between users and non-users of services, the other indices were less effective as predictors of service utilization.