The aim of this study was to provide valid data on the demography, medical history and clinical findings among adult women presenting with urinary incontinence to general practitioners. In a rural community in Norway, all women > 20 years who consulted their general practitioner for urinary incontinence during a 3 year period were included in a prospective study. A thorough medical history and both a general and focused clinical examination were undertaken. Gynecological examination, stress provocation test, and 48 h frequency/volume chart and pad weighing test were also performed. 105 women were included (4.4% of women > 20 years in the total population). Mean age was 57 years, 64% were postmenopausal. A lot of comorbidity was reported. Duration of incontinence was > 5 years in 49%. By a severity index, 64% were classified as severe, 28% as moderate and 8% as having slight incontinence. 59% were using protective pads or garments. Mean leakage per 24 h was 31 g. 38% had significant genital prolapse. Contractility of the pelvic floor muscles was weak in 28%. Diagnostic classification revealed 50% stress incontinence, 10% urge and 40% mixed incontinence. 42% of the patients were a great deal or much bothered by their incontinence. Patients with stress incontinence were less bothered than others. Women presenting with urinary incontinence at a primary care level are prevalent, and often have significant incontinence. It is a challenge for the general practitioners to investigate and treat these patients optimally.