An observational study of the relationships between clinical lameness and herd-level risk factors was made in 18 dairy herds in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Lameness in the lactating cows was assessed by two observers during herd visits made in the summer of 1989 and the spring of 1990, using a uniform scoring system. A questionnaire was used to obtain information about the general management, routine hoof care, nutrition, housing and flooring on the farms. Factors associated with the prevalence of clinical lameness in the summer included stall moisture, the size of the exercise area for the lactating cows and the amounts of dry concentrates and fresh forages fed to them. Factors associated with clinical lameness in the spring included the use of parlour milking facilities and the frequency with which the rations for the lactating cows were balanced.