All identified Israeli patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with onset of the disease from 1959 through 1975 (n = 318) were evaluated clinically. Most of our patients (63%) presented with weakness; only 10% presented with atrophy and 3% with fasciculations. In 31% of the cases, the onset of the disease was focal and 22% of the patients presented with bulbar signs, but only 6 patients presented with emotional lability (pseudo-bulbar). Twelve per cent of the patients presented with muscle cramps, pain or paraesthesia. Atypical signs such as motor cranial nerve lesion, dementia, sphincter disturbance and deep sensation loss are discussed. A relatively high proportion of our patients suffered from malignant tumour, but with no association with any specific tumour. The median survival time was 3 years. Patients with onset of their disease with bulbar signs had a shorter life expectancy (2.2 years): Twenty nine per cent of our patients survived for more than 5 years and 16% for more than 10 years.