The effects of destructive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on hand function, as well as total locomotion status, were assessed in a Swedish population sample. In a community of 12,707 inhabitants, 82 were found with RA fulfilling ARA criteria 5-8, i.e., a prevalence of 0.7 percent. Seventy-seven of the 82 cases were evaluated with Sollerman's hand function test and our total locomotion score. The mean hand score (max. 80) was 61 (0-78), with no difference between the right and the left hand or between men and women. Hand function worsened with increasing age of the patient, as well as with increasing disease duration. It was highly correlated with the total locomotion status of the patient. A high correlation was found between hand function and hospital care. However, total medical or social costs for these patients were not related to hand function, but merely to the status of the lower extremities.