The incidence of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in Eastern Austria was investigated. From 1968-1983 302,643 boys were born, 68 of whom were subsequently identified as having Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The overall incidence with respect to live male births is 1:4451 (22.5 x 10(-5)). The mean age of the children at the occurrence of the first symptoms was 3.1 (SD 1.1), at first presentation to a physician 4.8 (SD 2.0), and at diagnosis 5.5 (SD 1.7) years. DMD occurred in 56 families. These families had 73 boys with DMD, 5 of whom were born before or after the observation period. Thirteen families had two affected boys and two families even had three. In 4 families a second boy suffering from DMD was born although the diagnosis of DMD had already been established in another close male relative. If a newborn male screening system had been in function, 13 cases could possibly have been avoided. However, since in 3 cases the affected siblings were not both born within the observation period, they were excluded, leaving 10 cases. Hence, a prevention rate of 14.7% might have been achieved through creatine kinase (CK) screening and genetic counselling.