This study has attempted to identify all persons from an area of southern Alabama who had a stroke in 1980 and were hospitalized. Data were gathered on disease onset, clinical course, laboratory results, history of risk factors, and outcome. The age-adjusted incidence rates for initial stroke were 109 per 100,000 for whites and 208 per 100,000 for blacks. Age-specific rates were higher in blacks than whites, and highest for black females. The distribution of cases by type of stroke was: atherothrombotic (6%), embolic (26%), lacunar (13%), infarction of unspecified origin (40%), parenchymatous hemorrhage (8%), subarachnoid hemorrhage (6%), and unidentified type (1%). Blacks had higher incidence rates for hemorrhages, and black females had the highest incidence rate for lacunar stroke. The overall stroke incidence rates in this series were not significantly higher than those from prior population studies, suggesting that southern Alabama is not part of the so-called "Stroke Belt" area of the southeastern United States.