The disease-related temporary incapacity for work, its causes and duration are essential factors in the assessment of health status of the occupationally active population. The aim of the present study was to investigate the main causes of work disability among the rubber industry workers, with special regard to sickness absence among workers directly enganged in manufacture. The study was performed in 1995 on a sample of 973 workers (456 males and 517 females) at a plant producing rubber footware. The number of days of work disability from a particular disease, frequency and duration per year were examined. The analysis concerned such parameters of sickness absence as the lost time rate, average duration of absence, and percentage of workers on a sick-leave. The results revealed that during the period under study the main medical causes of the sickness absence included: a) for males--cardiovascular diseases (48% of the total sickness absence), respiratory diseases (18%), gastrointestinal disease (8%) and the nervous system and sense organs diseases (8%); b) for females--cardiovascular diseases (24%), respiratory diseases (16%), pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium complications (11%) and neoplasms (10%). The sickness absence of workers directly involved in the manufacture appeared to be by 72% higher than that noted for workers of other departments, with the age- and gender-standardized lost time rate of 4.74. The differences can be related mainly to a higher percentage of the sick in the group of 'production workers' (43%) as compared to the 'non-production' ones (28%). The findings of our study indicate that in the rubber industry workers a high rate of absence due to some groups of diseases may be associated with exposure to hazardous agents in their work environment.