The objective of the present study was to use systematic nation-wide case-finding methods to establish the prevalence and sex ratio of hemiplegic migraine (HM) in the entire Danish population of 5.2 million inhabitants. Affected patients were identified from three different recruitment sources: the National Patient Register, case records from private practising neurologists and advertisements. Based on the observed number of affected patients from each case-finding method, it was attempted to estimate the total number of affected patients by means of the statistical method known as capture-recapture. Two hundred and ninety-one affected patients were identified; 147 were familial HM from 44 different families, 105 were sporadic HM and 39 were unclassifiable HM. The HM sex ratio (M:F) was 1:3. Based on the identified number of affected patients the prevalence of HM at the end of 1999 was estimated to be 0.01% in Denmark, where the familial and sporadic form were equally frequent.