OBJECTIVE--To determine the incidence and age distribution of peptic ulcer disease in adults in Gothenburg. DESIGN--Retrospective study of patients with symptoms over one year. SETTING--All gastroenterology and x ray departments. PATIENTS--Any patient found to have an active ulcer crater during 1985. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Sex, age, past history of gastrointestinal ulcers, and smoking habit. RESULTS--In 1985, 1402 peptic ulcers were diagnosed in 1137 adults. Over half (403; 54%) of the ulcers in men and 393 (60%) ulcers in women were in patients aged over 60. All types of ulcer showed increasing incidence with age. The sex ratio of patients aged 40-50 with peptic ulcers was 1:1. Nearly half (109; 48%) of ulcers diagnosed for the first time in men and 129 (57%) of such ulcers in women were in patients aged over 60. Elderly men and women were also more likely to develop haemorrhage. CONCLUSIONS--In Gothenburg there is a surprisingly high incidence of peptic ulcer disease, which increases considerably with age, possibly explained by the availability of modern diagnostic techniques as 1121 (80%) ulcers had been diagnosed by gastroscopy. Compared with earlier studies there was no difference in the incidence between men and women aged 40-50.