A population-based cohort of 407 head trauma patients has been studied since 1986 to estimate the prevalence of long-term disabilities and handicaps by means of a structured questionnaire. Five years later, 6-1 patients were deceased and 36 were lost to follow-up. Prevalence of subjective and behavioral complaints was high whatever the initial head trauma severity. Lethality in severe head injuries was 56%, and half of the survivors remained disabled. In minor and moderate head injured patients, most disabilities were related to extracranial injuries. Taking all disabilities into consideration, each year 24 per 100,000 patients of such a population are likely to suffer from at least one long-lasting disability, including 10 per 100,000 whose disabilities are due to extracranial injuries. Head injuries induce long-lasting handicap in 9 per 100,000 habitants which is severe in 2 per 100,000. These figures point to the need of reinforcing preventive actions and long-term care of these patients.