The incidences of Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal adenocarcinoma are rising. However there is no evidence on whether the incidence of gastroesophageal reflux disease is rising. This was a retrospective study investigating the incidence of gastroesophageal reflux disease at endoscopy from 1980 to 1995. The study took place in Tayside, Scotland. Using the Tayside endoscopy database, patients with new diagnoses of Barrett's oesophagus and endoscopic oesophagitis were identified. Cases and rates (per 1000 endoscopies) for oesophagitis, Barrett's oesophagus and combined group of oesophagitis + Barrett's oesophagus were calculated for each year. There was a significant decline in the incidence of oesophagitis. There was a significant large increase in the incidence of Barrett's oesophagus and a small but significant rise in the incidence of endoscopically identified gastroesophageal reflux disease (oesophagitis + Barrett's oesophagus). There was a significant decrease in the ratio of new cases of oesophagitis to new cases of Barrett's oesophagus. At endoscopy there has been a small increase in incidence of gastroesophageal reflux disease. There has, however, been a dramatic change in the spectrum of gastroesophageal reflux disease, with a larger proportion having Barrett's oesophagus than previously.