The aim of this study was to establish data for career prevalence and 1 year incidence of work-place violence for major categories of health care workers. Three consecutive work environment questionnaire studies at a large Swedish hospital provided the basis for the study. Prevalence and incidence rates of violence were age and gender adjusted to the Swedish working population. Prevalence of violence in the study population was compared to data from a national sample of Swedish registered nurses. Incidence of violence in each professional group was compared to that of the largest group of hospital employees, registered nurses. Standardized prevalence ratios for violence were significantly higher for all nursing personnel and physicians, and were highest for practical nurses (1.56). Standardized incidence rates ranged from 18/100 person years for physicians to 31/100 person years for practical nurses. The relative risk for violence at work over a 1 year period was significantly higher only for practical nurses (1.59) as compared to registered nurses. Nursing personnel and physicians were at considerable risk for workplace violence in the course of their careers. One year incidence rates were highest for practical nurses.