Screening for vitamin B12 deficiency and thyroid disease is cheap and enables early diagnosis to be made and treatment to be started while it is still simple and can prevent the development of such serious conditions as dementia, depression, or irreversible tissue damage. In 1995-6, 83% (126/151) of all 75-year-olds in Härryda, a district (population 28,500) to the east of Gothenburg, agreed to undergo a health control designed to detect hypo- or hyper-thyroidism or vitamin B12 deficiency among elderly residents without symptoms (or with atypical symptoms not easily recognised). Of the 126 participants, four (3%) had low plasma cobalamin (vitamin B12) levels (a figure similar to or lower than those reported by others), and were treated with vitamin B12 after further examination; eight (6%) had serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels below the lower normal limit, though further examination showed all eight to be euthyroid; and two (1.6%) were diagnosed as being hypothyroid (a lower prevalence than figures reported elsewhere), and were treated with laevothyroxine. The findings suggest that such screening might be useful in primary care. However, the clinical diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency, and of hypo- or hyperthyroidism, is often difficult, especially in the elderly; and although a low serum TSH level is also considered to be a reliable marker of hyperthyroidism, like others this study showed that it may occur even in the absence of disease. Thus, serum TSH and plasma B12 levels are useful screening variables, but need to be complemented by other tests before diagnosis is set.