Dupuytren's disease is a polyclonal fibroproliferative disorder of the palmar fascia of unclear pathogenesis. It has been described as a disease of northern European men and is reportedly rare in other races. A 10-year retrospective study using the Department of Veterans Affairs computer system was conducted to determine the racial distribution of this disorder among patients treated at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers. The study also determined demographic and clinical characteristics of black veterans treated for the condition at department medical centers. There were 9938 patients identified between the fiscal years of 1986 and 1995, of whom 412 were black (estimated prevalence of 130 per 100,000 population), 9071 were white (734 per 100,000), 234 were Hispanic white (237 per 100,000), 11 were Native American (144 per 100,000), 8 were Asian (67 per 100,000), and 202 were of unknown race. The characteristics of the disease in blacks are similar to those in whites. In both groups, the disease has a late onset, affects predominantly the ulnar digits, and is associated with other medical conditions, such as alcoholism, smoking, and diabetes. Unlike Dupuytren's disease in whites, however, the disease is rarely bilateral in blacks. The differential prevalence among racial groups suggests a genetic component to the pathogenesis of the disease.