The clinical characteristics of 132 diabetic patients referred for treatment of foot lesions were surveyed. One hundred and sixty three lesions (n=163) concerned 88 men and 44 women during a five-year period (from January 1989 to December 1993). Hospitalisation rate equalled 9.16%, i.e. 11.17% for men and 6.82% for women (p <0.001); the men/women ratio was 1.64. Eighty nine per cent (89%) of patients presented type 2 diabetes and 11% of patients type 1 diabetes. Mean age at the first foot lesion was 59.64 +/- 11.74 years. The mean duration of diabetes was 10.95 +/- 6.80 years. The patients had a high prevalence of diabetic complications, particularly peripheral neuropathy (84.85%) and obvious peripheral arteriopathy (78.78%). Infection was almost constant. There was no significant difference between men and women as far as the prevalence of complications was concerned. Smoking habits were noticed only in men. Inadequate footwear was considered as the major exogenous risk factor leading to a foot lesion. The definitive results 6 months after hospitalisation were as follows: the death rate was 9.09% (n=2; 11 men and 1 women, NS); 15.90% of patients (n=12) underwent a major amputation (4 at the level of the thigh, 17 at the level of the leg), 14.39% of patients (n=19) underwent a minor amputation; in 59.09% of patients (n=78) there was no amputation. Two patients (1.51%) underwent two consecutive amputations, left hospital against medical advice during their second hospitalisation, and then were lost sight. The prevalence of foot lesions was more important in men. Moreover, seriousness of the lesions and consequently the rate of amputations were important in men; this was probably due to smoking habits. The factors that influence the outcome seem to be: male gender, delay of management, quality of medical treatment, surgical attitude, inadequate level of amputation and finally lack of structured prevention. Prevention then should be based on the patient's education, general practitioners' training and a better and more efficient cooperation between surgeons and diabetologists.