OBJECTIVE: To investigate the prevalence and characteristics of nocturnal enuresis in community-dwelling older adults and to identify potential predisposing variables. DESIGN: Interview survey. SETTING: Five rural counties in northwestern Pennsylvania. PARTICIPANTS: Subjects were 3884 community-dwelling older adults aged 65 to 79 years who volunteered for a health promotion demonstration. MEASUREMENTS: The dependent variable was self-reported accidental loss of urine during sleep. Independent variables included demographic variables, self-reported disease history and symptomatology, and standardized screening instruments for depression (CES- D), dementia (MMSE), and functional status (ADLs). MAIN RESULTS: Prevalence of nocturnal enuresis was 2.1%, and was significantly higher among women (2.9%) compared with men (1.0%; P < .0001). Compared with subjects with daytime incontinence only, those with nocturnal enuresis reported greater severity and impact of incontinence on several parameters. Enuretics were more likely to have received treatment; treatment outcome, however, was significantly less successful. In univariate analyses, enuresis was significantly associated with symptoms of congestive heart failure (CHF), impairment in activities of daily living, depression, and use of sleep medications at least once per week. In stepwise logistic regression modeling, two symptoms of congestive heart failure and regular use of sleep medication entered the model. CONCLUSIONS: Nocturnal enuresis appears to be uncommon among older adults, but it may be associated with poorer therapeutic outcomes compared with the more common forms of daytime incontinence. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that daytime fluid accumulation followed at night by mobilization of excess fluid is a contributor to enuresis in older adults.