OBJECTIVE - There are few U.K. data on the incidence rates of amputation in diabetic subjects compared with the nondiabetic population. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - We performed a historical cohort study of first lower- extremity amputations based in Tayside, Scotland (population 364,880) from 1 January 1993 to 31 December 1994. The Diabetes Audit and Research in Tayside Scotland (DARTS) database was used to identify a prevalence cohort of 7,079 diabetic patients on 1 January 1993. We estimated age-specific and standardized incidence rates of lower-limb amputations in the diabetic and nondiabetic cohorts. Results were compared with a previous study that evaluated lower-extremity amputations in diabetic patients in Tayside in 1980-1982. RESULTS - There were 221 subjects who underwent a total of 258 nontraumatic amputations. Of the 221 subjects, 60 (27%) patients were diabetic (93% NIDDM), and 63% were first amputations. The median duration of diabetes was 6 years (range: newly diagnosed to 41 years). Nonhealing ulceration (31%) and gangrene (29%) were the two main indications for amputation in the diabetic subjects. Of the 161 nondiabetic subjects, 140 (80%) underwent first amputations. The adjusted incidences in the diabetic and nondiabetic groups were 248 and 20 per 100,000 person-years, respectively Tayside patients with diabetes thus had a 12.3-fold risk of an amputation compared with nondiabetic residents (95% CI 8.6-17.5). The estimated proportion of diabetic patients in the population rose from 0.81% in 1980- 1982 to 1.94% in 1993-1994, whereas the absolute rate of amputation in diabetic subjects was unchanged from that in 1980-1982. CONCLUSIONS - These population-based U.K. amputation data are similar to amputation rates in the U.S. Amputation rates appear to have decreased significantly since 1980- 1982. The impact of diabetes education and prevention programs that target the processes leading to amputation can now be evaluated.