Asymptomatic metatarsophalangeal joints were aspirated in a group of patients with gout, in 2 control groups with hyperuricemia, and in 1 normouricemic control group. Extracellular urate crystals were present in 70% of gout patients, in 1 of 19 patients with asymptomatic hyperuricemia, and in 2 of 9 patients with renal failure and hyperuricemia but no history of joint disease. Crystals were not found in the 10 normouricemic patients who had other types of arthritis. The presence of crystals in the subjects with gout was not correlated with a history of podagra, duration of gout, presence of tophi, or degree of control of hyperuricemia. Though crystals were found on rare occasions in joint fluid of asymptomatic hyperuricemic subjects, the presence of these crystals in asymptomatic joints was more common in subjects with gout.