The prevalence of gallstone disease in a large Romanian town was determined on 6275 necropsies performed during a 10-year period (1973-1982). The "crude" prevalence of gallstone disease in women was 17.1% and in men, 6.9%. Age-standardized prevalence was 8.4% in women and 5.0% in men. This rate is lower than the prevalence of gallstones in northern or central European countries, but it is higher than that established in some southern countries of Europe. A comparison of the "crude" prevalence of gallstone disease was compared with that calculated for a similar 10-year period 100 years ago (1873-1882), on 1538 necropsies performed in the same town. Prevalence of gallstones rose significantly in a century (from a mean of 1.2% to 11.3%; P less than 0.001), a finding consistent with the concept that gallstone disease is a "disease of civilization."