Quantitative frequencies of clinical abnormalities in xeroderma pigmentosum were estimated by abstracting published descriptions of 830 patients in 297 articles obtained from a survey of the medical literature from 1874 to 1982. The median patient age was 12 years with nearly equal numbers of male and female patients. Cutaneous symptoms (sun sensitivity or freckling) had a median age of onset of between 1 and 2 years. Forty-five percent of the patients described had basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. The median age of first nonmelanoma skin cancer among patients with xeroderma pigmentosum was 8 years, more than 50 years less than that among patients with skin cancer in the United States. Melanomas were reported in 5% of patients. Ninety-seven percent of the reported basal and squamous cell carcinomas and 65% of the melanomas in patients with xeroderma pigmentosum occurred on the face, head, or neck. Seventy percent probability of survival was attained at age 40 years, a 28-year reduction in comparison with the US general population. Ocular abnormalities were reported in 40% of the patients described and were restricted to tissues exposed to ultraviolet radiation (lid, conjunctiva, and cornea) and included ectropion, corneal opacity leading to blindness, and neoplasms. Neurologic abnormalities were found in 18% of the cases reported, consisting of progressive mental deterioration, hyporeflexia or areflexia, and progressive deafness in some patients in association with dwarfism and immature sexual development. There was scant information concerning the efficacy of any therapeutic regimen.