To elucidate changes over time in the patient clientele examined at the department of occupational medicine, Aalborg Sygehus Nord, in the period 1982-1991, 4956 registrations related to referral and examination were studied in a retrospective investigation. The number of patients working at the time of examination has been steadily declining during the period. The number of patients with toxic encephalopathy is declining, while the number of patients with diseases in the musculoskeletal system is growing. Pregnant women with possible risk in the occupational environment and patients with cancers and mental illness form only a small part of the patient clientele in this department of occupational medicine. It is concluded that there have been changes in the patient clientele in the period 1982-1991. The small number of occupied patients diminishes the possibilities of replacement in work. Shorter periods of sickness and better possibilities for rehabilitation are expected to improve the situation in such a way, that the department of occupational medicine will be involved in health problems in the occupational environment in the future.