A sample of 761 subjects 70 years and over was drawn from general-practice records of a rural township. Each subject was assessed and followed for 1 year to determine the incidence of and factors related to falls. The fall rate (number of falls per 100 person-years) increased from 47 for those aged 70-74 years to 121 for those 80 years and over. There was no sex difference in fall rate but men were more likely than women to fall outside and at greater levels of activity. Twenty per cent of falls were associated with trips and slips but we found no evidence that inspection of homes and installation of safety features would have decreased the fall rate. Ten per cent of falls resulted in significant injury. Men who fell had an increased subsequent risk of death compared with those who did not fall (relative risk 3.2, 95% CI 1.7-6.0). Subsequent mortality was increased among women who fell but not to significant levels (relative risk 1.6, 95% CI 0.9-2.7).