The prevalence of peripheral neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease, and foot ulceration in Type 2 diabetic patients in the community were determined in a community-based study. Eight hundred and eleven subjects (404 male, 407 female, mean age 65.4 (range 34-90) years, diabetes duration 7.4 (0-50) years) from 37 general practices in three UK cities were studied. Neuropathy was diagnosed clinically using modified neuropathy disability scores which were ascertained using structured interviews and clinical examinations by one observer in each city. Peripheral vascular disease was diagnosed if a history of revascularization was present or > or = 2 foot pulses were absent. History of current or previous foot ulceration was recorded. The prevalence of neuropathy was 41.6% (95% confidence limits 38.3-44.9%) and the prevalence of PVD, 11% (9.1-13.7%). Forty-eight percent of neuropathic patients reported significant neuropathic symptoms. Forty-three patients (5.3% (3.8-6.8%)) had current or past foot ulcers; 20 of these were pure neuropathic ulcers, 13 neuroischaemic, 5 pure vascular, and 5 were unclassified. Multiple logistic regression showed history of amputation, neuropathy disability score, and peripheral vascular disease to be significantly associated with foot ulceration after adjusting for age and diabetes duration. A substantial proportion of Type 2 diabetic patients, often elderly patients who do not attend hospitals, suffered from peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. These patients are at risk of foot ulceration and may benefit from preventive footcare.