Radiographs of the fingers and wrists of adult participants in the Tecumseh Community Health Study in 1962-65 were examined for signs of osteoarthritis (OA). The severity of OA for each of 32 joints of the fingers and wrists was recorded for each individual. Attention was restricted to the 3035 participants who were 32 years of age or older and for whom a diagnosis of OA was available for each of 32 joints. Joint-specific prevalence rates of OA increased sharply with age for both sexes, and at the older ages, the prevalence rates for most joints were higher for females. Older individuals with OA also had a greater number of affected joints, with females having a greater number of affected joints than males. Of those individuals aged 44 years or younger, only 6.2% had one or more joints affected with OA. The percentages were 21.6 and 42.0% for those aged 45-59 years and 60 or more years, respectively. The distal interphalangeal (DIP) joints were the most frequently affected joints in all age categories for both sexes and OA in the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints was positively associated with OA in the DIP joints. However, controlling for the number of affected DIP joints, the PIP joints of older subjects were more likely to exhibit OA than the PIP joints of younger subjects. Though there is an association between OA in the DIP and PIP joints, there was only a small, nonsignificant association (OR = 1.24, 95% CI = 0.83, 1.84) between disease in the DIP and PIP joints of the same finger.