Dupuytren's contracture is a fascinating, deforming, fibrotic condition of the palmar fascia which has confounded clinicians and scientists for centuries. The aim of this paper is to place in perspective the longstanding associations of age, sex, race, hereditary factors, diabetes and alcohol consumption with the more recent novel investigations at the cellular level. In concert, the findings indicate that a number of factors may lead to the narrowing of palmar fascia microvessels, with localized ischaemia and oxygen free radical release. Oxygen free radicals are likely to damage the surrounding stroma, and stimulate fibroblast proliferation. Proliferating fibroblasts lay down collagen and contract in the lines of stress. The process is likely to encourage further microvessel ischaemia with a positive feedback effect that is consistent with the progressive nature of the condition.