Clinical spectrum, treatment and short-term outcomes were assessed among the 131 Rochester, Minnesota, men who contracted an initial hip fracture due to moderate trauma during 1978-89. Three-fourths of falls leading to hip fracture occurred indoors with little seasonality, and 91% of fractures were in men 65 years of age or older. The ratio of cervical to intertrochanteric femur fractures was 1.4:1, and there was a tendency toward more neurological conditions among the patients with cervical fractures. Hemiarthroplasty and total hip replacement were mostly performed for cervical fractures, while internal fixation was preferred for intertrochanteric fractures. In-hospital mortality was 11.5%, and the 30-day case fatality rate was 16.0%. Age and postoperative deterioration of mental status significantly increased the risk of early death, the latter even after adjustment in a multivariate model, while comorbidity had a suggestive but not statistically significant influence on mortality. More than half the men were discharged to nursing homes, and 79% of the patients who survived at 1 year resided in nursing homes or intermediate care facilities or were attended by home care. Only 41% of survivors recovered their prefracture level of functioning and nearly 60% of patients limped and required a cane or walker. After implementation of the prospective payment system in 1984, the length of hospital stay was reduced, but there was no change in early mortality rates, in the duration of physical therapy following fracture or in attendance at nursing homes. The results of this population-based study demonstrate the strong impact of hip fractures on short-term outcomes in men.