Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem in general medical practice affecting especially the elderly and those with cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. A study was undertaken by questionnaire distributed to consecutive adult male attendees at 62 general medical practices. 1240 completed questionnaires were available for analysis. The mean age of participants was 56.4y (range 18-91 y). 488 men (39.4%) reported ED: 119 (9.6%) 'occasionally', 110 (8.9%) 'often', and 231 (18.6%) 'all the time' (complete ED). Among 707 men aged 40-69y 240 (33.9%) reported ED and 84 (11.9%) had complete ED. The prevalence of complete ED increased with age, rising from 2.0% in the 40-49 y age group to 44.9% in the 70-79 y age group. Only 11.6% of men with ED had received treatment. Hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and diabetes mellitus were frequently associated with ED. 40% of diabetic men aged 60 y or older had ED all the time.