Locomotor disability, as defined by difficulties in activities of daily living related to lower limb function, can be the consequence of diseases and impairments of the cardiovascular, pulmonary, nervous, sensory and musculoskeletal system. We estimated the associations between specific diseases and impairments and locomotor disability, and the proportion of disability attributable to each condition, controlling for age and comorbidity. The Rotterdam Study is a prospective follow-up study among people aged 55 years and over in the general population. Locomotor disability in 1219 men and 1856 women was assessed with the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire. Diseases and impairments were radiological osteoarthritis, pain of the hips and knees, morning stiffness, fractures, hypertension, vascular disease, ischemic heart disease, stroke, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, overweight, and low vision. Adjusted odds ratios, etiologic and attributable fractions were calculated for locomotor disability. The occurrence of locomotor disability can partly be ascribed to joint pain, COPD, morning stiffness, diabetes and heart failure in both men and women. In addition in women osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, low vision, fractures, stroke and Parkinson's disease are significant etiologic fractions. In men with morning stiffness, joint pain, heart failure, diabetes mellitus, and COPD a significant proportion of their disability is attributable to this impairment. In women this was the case for Parkinson's disease, morning stiffness, low vision, heart failure, joint pain, diabetes, radiological osteoarthritis, stroke, COPD, osteoporosis, and fractures of the lower limbs, in that order. We conclude that locomotor complaints, heart failure, COPD and diabetes mellitus contribute considerably to locomotor disability in non-institutionalized elderly people.