OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence of non-healed and healed chronic leg ulcers in an elderly rural population. DESIGN: All persons 70 years or older were asked about present and previous leg ulcers. SETTING: A rural village in mid-west Sweden with 4000 inhabitants. PARTICIPANTS: 541 persons aged 70 years and above. OUTCOME MEASURES: The prevalence of healed or non-healed chronic leg ulcers in the population aged > or = 70. RESULTS: Healed or non-healed leg ulcers were reported by 53 persons (9.8%). Examination of these patients and also 100 individuals who had negated present or previous leg ulceration, giving the total prevalence of 12.6%. CONCLUSION: The result indicates a certain risk for overestimation of prevalence, as well as underestimation and decreased reliability when basing the figures only on telephone interviews or posted questionnaires.