This study was designed to determine the incidence and prevalence of amputations in diabetic Mexican American elders and to identify correlates of lower extremity amputations. Data for this study came from baseline and two follow-up interviews of the Hispanic Established Population for the Epidemiological Study of the Elderly (EPESE) conducted in five southwestern states (Texas, California, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona) in 1993-1994. Of the 3050 subjects aged 65 and older, 690 reported diabetes, and from these, 60 (8%) reported having at least one lower extremity amputation. Losing a leg was the most common type of amputation (53%). Twelve percent of respondents reported a new amputation and 40% of amputees reported a second amputation during follow-up. Mortality among amputees was 46% during a 5-year follow-up. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that being male and having eye problems, hip fracture and diabetes for 10 or more years were significantly associated with lower extremity amputations at baseline, whereas obesity, stroke and 10 or more years with diabetes were significantly associated with new amputations at 5-year follow-up. Gender and disease history were associated with lower extremity amputations at baseline and follow-up. These variables may be useful in developing patient education and intervention programs.