Studies on the prevalence of tinea pedis, a frequently encountered dermatophytic infection, have been conducted mostly in swimmers although people who regularly practise other types of physical activities may also have a high rate of clinical or subclinical infection. This investigation was undertaken to establish the rate of infection in marathon runners, and to determine the incidence of occult athlete's foot disease in this population. Among samples obtained from 405 individuals, 22% were positive. The rate of infection was highest in the older age groups. The prevalence of infection was 24.2% in men and 6.1% in women. Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes were the two species of dermatophytes most commonly isolated on culture. Occult athlete's foot disease represented 48% of cases with a positive culture. Finally, routine sampling of both feet was confirmed necessary to adequately establish the rate of infection: 26.9% of cases with a positive culture would have been missed by unilateral sampling. Other epidemiological factors were not clearly linked to the prevalence of disease in marathon runners: weight; presence of pet animals; practice of other sports; race and country of origin. In conclusion, we establish that marathon runners represent a population at risk for the occurrence of both clinical and subclinical tinea pedis infection.