The aim of this study was to describe elbow problems among goalkeepers in team handball. A questionnaire was sent to the coaches of 449 senior and 32 junior teams in Norway in 1992. Of these, 304 coaches responded (63%) and their teams were included in the study. A total of 329 out of 729 goalkeepers (45+/-1.8%) and 166 out of 4120 court players (4.0+/-0.3%) were reported by their coaches to have current or previous symptoms from one or both elbows when playing handball. In response to a second questionnaire sent to all the goalkeepers (729; response rate 81%), 41+/-2.0% reported current elbow problems and an additional 34+/-2.0% reported previous problems. During a 2-year observation period from 1992 to 1994, 8.6+/-1.8% of the goalkeepers with previously healthy elbows experienced elbow problems. The typical complaint was recurrent pain and disability episodes, each with an acute onset, but with varying duration. The mechanism of injury for the goalkeepers appears to be repeated hyperextension traumas. We conclude that elbow pain and disability is a significant problem for a large number of goalkeepers in team handball. These problems may be described as a syndrome called 'handball goalie's elbow'.