The average annual incidence of Bell's palsy per 100,000 population in Rochester, Minnesota, for 1968 through 1982 was 25.0 for both sexes combined; crude rates for males and females were 22.8 and 26.9, respectively, based on 85 males and 121 females. The relationship between various clinical features, patient characteristics, and the type of recovery was analyzed. In 206 patients, 28 (14%) experienced incomplete recovery and 178 (86%) had complete recovery, based on evidence in the medical records. Using logistic regression, complete facial weakness, non-ear pain, and hypertension were identified as the most important risk factors for incomplete recovery. Patients were divided into two groups for comparison of treatment results; one group (n = 94) was without any of the three identified risk factors, and the other group (n = 112) consisted of patients who had one or more risk factors. Results suggested that among the latter group, those treated with steroids fared better than those in any of the other treatment groups.