A soft tissue immersion radiography technique was used to study changes in 4,648 finger joints of 166 patients free from signs of inflammatory joint disease. An age-specific correlation was found for joint swelling, joint space narrowing, joint margin spurs, and intraarticular loose bodies. The distal interphalangeal joints were more commonly swollen in women, and the proximal interphalangeal and metacarpophalangeal joints more commonly swollen in manual laborers. Both correlations are highly significant (P less than 0.001). The second and third digits showed a definite predilection for joint swelling. Swelling of finger joints is closely correlated with age and degenerative disease, and its occurrence in older patients is associated with degenerative changes. In manual laborers it should not be interpreted as evidence for inflammatory joint disease.