A cross-sectional study of the 1-year prevalence of low back pain was conducted in workers employed in manual lifting jobs. To provide epidemiologic data to determine the correlation between the prevalence of low back pain and exposure to manual lifting stressors, measured with the lifting index component of the revised lifting equation from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The NIOSH lifting equation has been proposed as a practical, yet valid tool for assessing the risks of low back pain caused by manual lifting. To date, however, there have been few studies in which the effectiveness of the equation to identify jobs with elevated rates of low back pain has been evaluated. Fifty jobs from four industrial sites were evaluated with the NIOSH lifting equation. A symptom and occupational history questionnaire was administered to 204 people employed in lifting jobs and 80 people employed in nonlifting jobs. Regression analysis was used to determine whether there was a correlation between the lifting index and reported low back pain. As the lifting index increased from 1.0 to 3.0, the odds of low back pain increased, with a peak and statistically significant odds ratio occurring in the 2 < lifting index < or = 3 category (odds ratio = 2.45). For jobs with a lifting index higher than 3.0, however, the odds ratio was lower (odds ratio = 1.45). Although low back pain is a common disorder, the lifting index appears be a useful indicator for determining the risk of low back pain caused by manual lifting.