Among the 116 consecutive patients aged 70 and older who were evaluated for dizziness in the UCLA neurotology clinic, the mean duration of symptoms was 36.2 months. One or more specific diagnoses were identified in 100 patients (86.2%), with the most common diagnoses being benign positional vertigo (25.9% of patients) and cerebrovascular disorders (21.6%). Benign positional vertigo was characterized by brief episodes of positional vertigo, a positive Hallpike maneuver, and lack of focal signs on neurologic examination and electronystagmography. Cerebrovascular disease presented as two entities, infarction and transient ischemic attacks, each of which had a distinct clinical picture. Patients who could not be definitively diagnosed frequently described presyncopal lightheadedness provoked by upright posture, and usually had normal physical examinations and electronystagmography. The clinical history, particularly the description and temporal nature of the patient's symptoms, provided the key diagnostic data in 69.0% of cases.