The objective of this study was to define the level of treated thyroid dysfunction in a complete and representative population base in an area of sufficient dietary iodine intake. We used record-linkage technology to retrospectively identify subjects treated for hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism in the general population of Tayside, Scotland from 1 January 1993 to 30 April 1997. Thyroid status was ascertained by record linkage of patient-level datasets containing details of treatments for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. We identified 620 incident cases of hyperthyroidism, an incidence rate of 0.77/1000 x yr [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.70-0.84] in females and 0.14/1000 x yr (95% CI, 0.12-0.18) in males. There were 3,486 incident cases of diagnosed primary hypothyroidism, an incidence rate of 4.98/1000 x yr (95% CI, 4.81-5.17) in females and 0.88/1000 x yr (95% CI, 0.80-0.96) in males. For both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, the incidence increased with age, and females were affected two to eight times more than males across the age range. The midyear point prevalence of all-cause hypothyroidism rose from 2.2% in 1993 to 3.0% in 1996. The level of thyroid dysfunction in Tayside, Scotland is higher than previously reported, and it increased from 1993 to 1996.