This presentation describes the progress during 1982-1986 of the OMGE Multinational Survey of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. After a brief description of the study design and protocol, the status of the survey in 1986 is presented. In all, 40 centres contributed 3175 cases at that time, data collection being meticulous via previously designed proformata. Diagnostic criteria are next discussed. Little change between 1976 and 1986 is noted, with wide congruence of diagnostic thought, now codified into a simple (and recommended) OMGE diagnostic scoring system. Patients seen prior to 1978 were reviewed in 1986. Where attempted, a follow-up of over 86% was achieved, usually more than 4 years after the original presentation involving no less than 5215 'patient-years' of observed follow-up. Following these overall considerations, details of four subprojects are annexed, each of which was presented as a 'free paper' at the 8th World Congress and concerning, respectively, the changing natural history of IBD, risks of perforation and toxic megacolon in the 1980s, IBD in elderly patients, and features associated with recurrence in Crohn's disease.