In two counties of Sweden, Gotland and Umeå, lower leg or thigh amputations were performed during 1971-1980 in 111 and 71 diabetic patients, respectively. These figures correspond to 20.5 and 6.5 per 100 000 inhabitants and year, respectively. The corresponding incidence for Umeå city and the rural area surrounding Umeå was 3.1 and 13.8/100 000 inhabitants and year, respectively. The lower frequency of amputations in Umeå was probably the consequence of a restricted period of systematic search for early signs of gangrene, as a part of a research program, but other factors could also be of importance and these are discussed. The death rate of the patients was high in both series, after 2 years only about one third of the patients were still alive.