A questionnaire survey characterized a sample of 670 probands with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and allied disorders. Segregation analysis provided some evidence for a small proportion of sporadic cases and for decreased segregation ratios of the dominant and recessive genotypes, which could be attributed to delayed age of onset in some cases. The overall incidence of RP was indirectly calculated to be approximately 1 in 3,700, while the incidence of autosomal recessive RP, including at least two genocopies, was estimated to be about 1 in 4,450. Family data analysis included the calculation of the likelihood that each family represented autosomal recessive, autosomal dominant, and X-linked inheritance patterns. These likelihoods were then converted to relative probabilities and summed over the sample population to yield estimates of the proportions of the three Mendelian types. This large, heterogeneous sample indicated that approximately 84% of the cases in the United States may be autosomal recessive, while about 10% are dominant and 6% X-linked recessive.