Using a 33-item questionnaire, this study was conducted to determine the nature and prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in dental hygienists, and its effects on clinical practice. An 89% response was obtained from a random sample of 493 dental hygienists. Results revealed that 68% of the respondents reported having musculoskeletal pain in eight body locations the previous year. In addition, a large percentage of dental hygienists with a preexisting condition reported having musculoskeletal pain. Thirty-four percent stated that musculoskeletal pain had affected their clinical practice--forcing them to practice fewer days, decreasing their endurance, reducing speed and quality, and/or altering operating positions. The findings suggest that particular locations of pain could be related to dental hygiene practice. Further research is indicated to clarify specific patient-operator positions contributing to musculoskeletal pain so that prevention and early treatment become possible.