Managers of state-based occupational disease surveillance programs were interviewed for information on their program's characteristics and factors that contributed to their success. There were 68 programs in 52 jurisdictions (50 states, the District of Columbia and New York City). Reportable conditions ranged from a specific disease to "all occupational diseases". Of these programs, 56% met at least one of their objectives. Conditions associated with successful programs usually had short latency periods, were easily diagnosed, and were related to a workplace hazard. They included agricultural injuries, burns, respiratory diseases, cumulative trauma disorders, and poisonings due to lead, pesticides, or carbon monoxide. Successful programs had larger budgets and more staff than did unsuccessful programs, and also took actions after notification of a condition.