The prevalence of back and joint complaints and of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), chondrocalcinosis (CC) and osteoarthritis (OA) was studied in three representative population subsamples aged 70, 75 and 79 years. The prevalence of back pain was 38% and of joint complaints 40%, both significantly higher in females. The prevalence of RA was not significantly different between the age groups. Chondrocalcinosis increased with age in females. Radiographic and clinical OA of knees was less prevalent with increasing age. Symptoms of wrist and finger OA occurred in 1-4% of females but not males. Enlargement of DIP joints occurred in 50% of females and 25% males. Radiographic OA of first MCP joints was more prevalent with age in males but not females. Obesity correlated with radiographic OA of knees in females. Clinical and radiographic OA of fingers and knees did not correlate with previous strenuous occupations.