Reliable population-based epidemiologic data regarding vision and ocular morbidity, as well as those about the perceptions of people regarding visual impairment and eye care, are lacking for the most part in the developing world including India. These data are the basis on which effective eye care services can be developed. To meet this need we designed the Andhra Pradesh Eye Disease Study, a population-based epidemiology study of 10,000 people in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The design of this study is described in this paper. Various options for the sample size, study areas, sampling procedure, and recruitment of subjects were considered. A sample size of 10,000 people, 5,000 each in the < or = 30 and > 30 years age groups, was determined to obtain reasonable confidence in estimating the prevalence of diseases and odds ratios for risk factors of interest. A multistage sampling strategy was chosen for the study which was assumed to give a design effect of 1.5 for the estimates. One urban area, Hyderabad, and three rural areas, West Godavari, Adilabad and Mahbubnagar districts, were selected in Andhra Pradesh. Interview instruments were developed to obtain detailed information about demographic data, diet, ocular and systemic history, risk factors for eye diseases, visual function, quality of life, barriers to eye care, and knowledge about eye diseases. A detailed examination procedure was devised to obtain a broad range of normative and abnormal data related to eyes and vision. A protocol was developed for doing automated visual fields, slitlamp and fundus photography. Computer databases were made in FoxPro for data entry and subsequent analysis with SPSS. Pilot studies were done to test the instruments, procedures, and logistics of the study in urban and rural areas. Information from the Andhra Pradesh Eye Disease Study is expected to help in planning and implementation of effective long-term preventive, curative, and rehabilitative eye care services in Andhra Pradesh.