A longitudinal prospective surveillance for acute adenolymphagitis (ADL) was carried out in three villages in Rufiji district. A sample population of 3000 individuals aged 10 years and above was monitored fortnightly for a period of 12 months. The annual incidence of ADL was found to be 33 per 1000 population and was significantly higher in males than females (52.7/1000 and 18.7/1000 respectively). ADL episodes were more frequent in the age group of 40 years and above. Individuals with chronic manifestations seemed to be more vulnerable to ADL attacks with 62.2% of the total episodes occurring in this group. Furthermore, individuals with lymphoedema experienced more frequent acute episodes compared to those with hydrocele and 'normal exposed'. ADL episodes ranged from one to five per annum and the majority of the affected (60.4%) experienced a single episode. The average duration of an ADL episode was 8.6 days and in 72.5% of the episodes the affected individuals were incapacitated and unable to do their normal activities for an average duration of 3.7 days. The physical incapacitation associated with ADL episodes emphasizes the significance of lymphatic filariasis as a major public health problem of substantial socio-economic consequences. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.