This study reports the causes, characteristics and treatment of injuries to the hand and wrist presented to five accident and emergency departments in a 2-year survey of 13% of the Danish population. The rate of injury to the hand or wrist was 28.6% of all injuries, or 3.7 per 100,000 inhabitants per year. 34% of the accidents were domestic, 35% were leisure accidents, 26% were occupational and 5% were traffic accidents. Only 2% of the patients were admitted to hospital for further treatment or observation and 13% were referred to a hospital as outpatients. The most frequent causes for admission were fractures (42%), tendon lesions (29%) and wounds (12%).