A survey of the public's attitude to arthritis was commissioned by the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council (ARC) in 1974. The survey was carried out by National Opinion Polls (NOP) Market Research Ltd. The ARC were interested to find out whether people underestimated arthritis and what they thought about the consequences. Respondents were asked to rank a number of illnesses in terms of their seriousness and the loss of work to which they give rise. They were also shown a series of statements about arthritis and rheumatism in order to elicit the extent of their agreement with the views these represented. The public appear to have fairly realistic ideas about the magnitude of the problem and of its nature and associations. However, although the pain of arthritis and rheumatism was appreciated, their possible impact in terms of disturbance of the normal pattern of daily life tended to be underestimated. The findings reflect the climate of opinion from which present and potential arthritis sufferers come and may therefore reveal part of their attitudes to their disease.