A retrospective survey of non-traumatic and non-neoplastic lower limb amputations in Newcastle upon Tyne during 1989-91 was performed. Hospital data were cross-checked with the local limb fitting centre to ensure 100% ascertainment. The diabetic patients were found to be 39% of amputees and 42% of operations (all levels). Incidence of diabetes amputation was 5.7 per 100,000 population per year. Fifteen percent of the diabetic patients had diabetes first diagnosed when they were admitted for amputation. For the known diabetes patients, 46% were under diabetes care by general practitioners only. Forty-seven percent of the patients who were under the care of a hospital service for diabetes had incomplete foot examination and assessment. Mortality rate within 30 days after diabetic amputation was 10% and median life expectancy following amputation was 22 months. It seems likely that assessment and management of the diabetic foot remains suboptimal in Newcastle, and that protocols and audit of care could lead to improvements without additional resources.