Diabetic foot ulcers are of many types and different ulcers require management in different ways. Their optimal management is currently hindered by lack of a useful working classification. Such a classification must be flexible enough to be applied to all lesions likely to be encountered but specific enough to enable clear definition of an individual lesion. It must also be simple enough to ensure that it is understood by all categories of health care workers, whether specialist or not. An attempt has been made to devise a classification--based on the key elements used in describing foot lesions--and it is put forward to act as stimulus for debate. It is based on the clinical definition of infection, ischaemia, and neuropathy. Although two of these, or even all three, may be found in the same foot, they should be considered in the order given because this reflects the sequence of clinical decisions which should be made. The adoption of a classification such as this would aid education, communication, research and audit, and would lead to better management of ulcers.