The incidence and age distribution of bronchiectasis is at present poorly known. The aim here was to describe the use made of hospital services by bronchiectasis patients in Finland over ten years and to estimate the incidence of this disease. Data on hospital admissions for bronchiectasis were obtained from the register maintained by the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health. Admissions and new cases during the period 1983-1992 were calculated by age and sex in relation to the total population. There were 5,710 admissions for bronchiectasis and 1,928 new cases. The occurrence of cases treated in hospital was 4.9 per million person-years at age 0-14 years, 103.8 at 65 years or over and 38.9 in the total population. The estimated incidence of bronchiectasis is low in Finland, especially in childhood, and efforts aimed at its treatment should now be directed specifically at the elderly population, which continues to exert considerable pressure on even a relatively well developed health service in this respect.