Surveillance of occupational skin diseases was carried out by examining a population of 14,703 workers' compensation cases recorded in the Supplementary Data System (SDS) compiled for the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 1981, in combination with state employment data. For the eight major industries surveyed, the incidence of dermatitis varied according to the reporting criteria used, although the relative ranking for the major industries remained unchanged. Despite a 25 fold variation in the quantitative rate of reported illness, the SDS and the Annual Survey agreed broadly on the qualitative ranking of industries at highest risk for occupational skin disease. The highest incidence of skin disease occurred consistently in the agricultural, manufacturing and construction industries. This ranking was compatible with the rankings of the Annual OSHA-200 survey for the year 1981. Nearly 50 percent of the cases recorded in the agricultural industry, which had the highest incidence of skin diseases, were due to plants, trees and vegetation, as compared to 10 percent due to food products and 20 percent due to chemicals (only 9 percent were related to a specific agent or category of agents). The authors conclude that comparison of SDS and Annual Survey data represents a useful source for defining the incidence of skin diseases according to industry.