Information on agricultural trauma is limited and difficult to find. Planning for effective prevention strategies and evaluation is compromised by lack of a good surveillance system. Several agencies and organizations have provided some data. Although their summation is at best an approximation of the real situation, a critical review of current data bases is presented. The literature is also reviewed attempting to characterize agricultural trauma. This characterization was classified into: 1) case descriptions, 2) reviews of general articles on the hazards of farming, and 3) descriptive surveys of agricultural injuries. A summary of the available literature still leaves a rather superficial understanding of the entire injury picture. A new approach to surveillance is necessary to overcome past deficiencies. A combined modality approach is suggested, utilizing on-site survey, mail survey, telephone interviewing, and medical record verification. Trial applications of two such systems in Minnesota are described.