Different types of hand eczema in an industrial city were studied. Questionnaires were sent to 20,000 individuals aged 20-65 years, randomly selected from the population register of the city. Those subjects (1,385) considering themselves to have had hand eczema within the previous 12 months were invited to a dermatological examination. It was found that hand eczema occurred twice as often among females as among males. The most common diagnosis was irritant dermatitis. Atopic hand eczema and allergic contact dermatitis had a lower but approximately equal prevalence. Onset of hand eczema at young ages was common, in particular among women. Hand eczema was shown often to be a long-lasting disease with a relapsing course. Atopic hand eczema seemed to be most unfavourable, with a long duration, high continuity of symptoms and extensive involvement.