The prevalence, incidence and correlates of urinary incontinence were studied in a community-based sample of 541 healthy, middle-aged women 42 to 50 years old. Participants were evaluated on 2 occasions approximately 3 years apart. Of the participants 58% reported urine loss at some time and 30.7% reported incontinence on a regular basis at least once per month. During 3 years the cumulative incidence of regular incontinence in previously continent women was 8.0%. Among those with regular incontinence 64.9% said the volume of loss was 1 or 2 drops, while 35.1% reported that they needed to change their garment. Only 25.5% of the patients had sought treatment. Continence status was significantly related to body mass index and race but not to patient age, parity, caffeine or alcohol intake, smoking, physical activity, prior gynecological surgery or several psychological variables. The results indicate that urinary incontinence is common among middle-aged women. That few seek treatment suggests a need for more information about women's attitudes toward incontinence and more attention to this problem by health care providers.