We report the results of clinical and electrophysiological examinations in 131 cases of meralgia paresthetica (MP) among 120 unselected patients, 69 men and 51 women, aged 15-81 years. All patients experienced permanent or intermittent pain, and all but one had permanent sensory impairment of the thigh. The lateral aspect of the thigh was solely involved in 88 cases and the anterior aspect was also or exclusively involved in 32 cases. The right thigh was involved 62 times and the left 58 times. Symptom duration varied from 2 weeks to 20 years. The initial diagnosis was meralgia paresthetica in 47 cases (39%), root disease in 35 cases, and osteoarthritis in 6 cases; no diagnosis was proposed in the 32 remaining cases. Two cases had undergone previous spine surgery for disk herniation, with no benefit. A precise cause could explain the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) lesion in 46 cases, the other 74 cases being considered idiopathic (25% of patients were obese). Only one case required surgery to relieve symptoms. LFCN conduction was studied orthodromically, distally from the anterior superior iliac spine. The side-to-side amplitude ratio (ssRatio) was greater than 2.3 in 118 of 120 patients (98.3%) and was a better index to confirm a lesion of the LFCN than SNAP amplitude, which was abnormal (less than 3 microV) in 88 cases (73.3%). Only two of the 11 bilateral cases had an ssRatio lower than 2.3 (they were both 2.0). An ssRatio of 2.3 or more and a SNAP amplitude lower than 3 microV provided a specificity of 98.75% or more. The mean axonal loss was 88%. These clinical and electrophysiological data highlight the central role the neurophysiologist should play in diagnosing MP by means of an LFCN conduction study.