The objective of this paper was to present estimates on the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain of five different anatomical areas and ten anatomical sites, and their consequences and risk groups in the general Dutch population. Cross-sectional data from a population-based study of a sex-age stratified sample of Dutch inhabitants of 25 years and older were used. With a postal questionnaire data was assessed on musculoskeletal pain, additional pain characteristics (location, duration, course), its consequences (utilization of health care, sick leave and limitation in daily life) and general socio-demographic characteristics. The top three of self-reported musculoskeletal pain (point prevalence (P(p)) with 95% confidence interval (CI)) was: (1). low back pain, P(p)=26.9% (95% CI 25.5-28.3); (2). shoulder pain, P(p)=20.9% (95% CI 19.6-22.2); and (3). neck pain, P(p)=20.6% (95% CI 19.3-21.9). In most cases the pain was described as continuous or recurrent and mild. In every three out of ten cases the complaints about pain were accompanied by limitations in daily living. Between 33 and 42% of those with complaints consulted their general practitioner about their pain. With the exception of persons who are work disabled, general sociodemographic characteristics cannot be used to identify high risk groups. Musculoskeletal pain is common in all subgroups of the population and has far-reaching consequences for health, work and the use of health care.