No reports of the incidence rates for primary systemic amyloidosis (AL) have come to our attention. Records of all residents of Olmstead County, Minnesota, with a diagnosis of amyloidosis were obtained from the Mayo Clinic and its affiliated hospitals, as well as other medical groups that might have seen local patients for the period January 1, 1950 to December 31, 1989. Twenty-one patients fulfilled the criteria for the diagnosis of AL. The median age was 73.5 years, and 62% were men. In all but one patient the diagnosis was made ante mortem. The clinical data of the 21 patients were similar to those referral patients with AL seen at Mayo Clinic. Immunohistochemical stains were positive for monoclonal light chains in the amyloid deposits in 15 of the 21 cases. In six cases, tissue was not available for immunohistochemical studies. Three of the six patients without immunohistochemical stains had a free monoclonal lambda light chain in the urine, and the other three had a monoclonal serum protein. Immunoelectrophoresis/immunofixation detected a monoclonal (M)-protein in the serum of 16 of 17 patients tested. A monoclonal light chain was found in the urine of 10 of 15 patients. The overall sex- and age- adjusted rate per million person-years was 6.1 from 1950 to 1969 and 10.5 from 1970 to 1989. The similarity of these rates suggests no significant increase over time.