Patients can only examine and handle their own feet if they have adequate visual acuity and joint mobility. We therefore studied the physical capacity of patients with neuropathy to perform the preventive footcare measures previously taught. The study included three groups of diabetic outpatients, comparable for age and duration of diabetes: (1) 38 patients with neuropathic ulcers; (2) 21 patients with neuropathy, but no ulcers; (3) 30 patients without neuropathy. Visual acuity and joint mobility, expressed as minimum eye-metatarsum and heel-buttock distances, did not differ between uncomplicated neuropathic and non-neuropathic patients: visual acuity was sufficient in 95% of neuropathic patients without ulceration and in 87% of non-neuropathic patients; joint mobility was in the normal range in both groups. However, 71% of complicated neuropathic patients had insufficient visual acuity for correct foot examination, and their joint mobility was reduced compared with uncomplicated neuropathic and non-neuropathic patients.