The first German Health Survey was carried out from October 1997 to March 1999. In the survey, 7,124 subjects of a representative sample of the residential population aged between 18 and 79 years were interviewed and medically examined. The response rate was 61.4%; 0.4% of the sample participated only partly in the study. Moreover, 16.0% of the non-respondents filled in a short questionnaire. This results in (although partly limited) information from 77.8% of the sample. The sample also comprises aliens living in Germany. More than 15% of the non-respondents could not be addressed to participate in the study because they were never reached personally. According to the statements in the short questionnaire, non-respondents and respondents differ in particular items such as e.g. education. The differences between the individual answers concerning the important question of the general health status can be classified as negligible. Weighting factors were calculated to arrive at representative information on the 18 to 79 year-old population.