In order to know the prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in a community population in Japan, we analyzed data from a population-based interview survey. Two cases out of 137 respondents experienced chronic fatigue during a period of nine months, suffered from 50% or more reduction of daily activity due to fatigue and had no other physical or psychiatric diagnosis. Both of the two cases fulfilled the 1994 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) criteria and the British criteria. The point and nine-month prevalence rates of CFS were both 1.5% (95% confidence intervals, 0.4-5.2%). None fulfilled the 1989 CDC criteria for CFS. The prevalence rate of CFS was higher than those in previous studies in the Western countries, suggesting a need for future research on cross-cultural differences in the definition, prevalence and symptomatology of CFS.