Telangiectasia of the hands were observed in 76% of patients with scleroderma (n = 53) as compared with 12% of patients with other rheumatic disorders (n = 100) and in 13% of healthy subjects (n = 30). In scleroderma, telangiectasia of the hands were commonly multiple (mean number +/- SD = 22.9+/-30.1) with 7.3% being >1 mm in size. They were found in greater numbers in those patients with the limited subtype. The distribution of telangiectasia was observed on all but 4 of 158 sectors of the hand with significant higher numbers on the ventral surface of the digits. Significant associations of telangiectasia of the hands were also observed with numbers of telangiectasia on face and lips (p = 0.001), disease duration (p = 0.002), surface area of digital calcinosis (p = 0.03) and with the presence of the centromere antibody (p = 0.005). Possible associations were observed with prior gastrointestinal bleeds (particularly with telangiectasia >1 mm) and with isolated pulmonary hypertension. No significant correlation was found between number of telangiectasia and with nailfold capillary size or density. In conclusion, multiple telangiectasia of the hands were most commonly observed in patients with the centromere positive, limited subtype of scleroderma of long duration. Their pathogenesis is unknown.