Members of the Sheep Veterinary Society and three terminal sire breed societies (A, B and C) were surveyed to investigate the prevalence and characteristics of ovine caseous lymphadenitis in the UK. In total, 264 veterinary surgeons and 510 farmers responded. Eighteen per cent of the vets had seen at least one case of the disease, and 45 per cent of the farmers had seen abscesses in their sheep. Relatively few farmers had had the cause of the abscesses investigated, but 24 of the 32 flocks that had submitted samples to a laboratory had had the disease confirmed. The incidence of the disease and abscesses increased from 1990 to 1999. The disease was more likely to be investigated in certain breeds and when male sheep had abscesses. Risk factors for the disease included the presence of sheep of breed B in the flock, the presence of half-bred sheep, showing sheep, and the use of shearing contractors. Dipping sheep appeared to be protective.