The Rotterdam Study is a prospective cohort study ongoing since 1990 in the city of Rotterdam in The Netherlands. The study targets cardiovascular, endocrine, hepatic, neurological, ophthalmic, psychiatric and respiratory diseases. As of 2008, 14,926 subjects aged 45 years or over comprise the Rotterdam Study cohort. The findings of the Rotterdam Study have been presented in close to a 1,000 research articles and reports (see www.epib.nl/rotterdamstudy). This article gives the rationale of the study and its design. It also presents a summary of the major findings and an update of the objectives and methods.