In this investigation reported epidemiologic studies on carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) (15 cross-sectional studies involving 32 occupational or exposure groups and six case-referent studies) were reviewed. The prevalence of CTS in the different occupational groups varied between 0.6 and 61%. The highest prevalence was noted for grinders, butchers, grocery store workers, frozen food factory workers, platers, and workers with high-force, high-repetitive manual movements. Odds ratios greater than 10 were reported for exposed groups in three studies. On the basis of epidemiologic and other evidence, it was concluded that exposure to physical work load factors, such as repetitive and forceful gripping, is probably a major risk factor for CTS in several types of worker populations. At least 50%, and as much as 90%, of all of the CTS cases in these exposed populations appeared to be attributable to physical work load.