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We have studied the radiological features in 94 patients with early rheumatoid disease followed prospectively for 5 years. The changes appeared very early and occurred in up to 71-3% of patients. Erosive changes occurred in the feet much more commonly than in the hands and considerably earlier. Erosive changes were present before there was joint-space loss. Frequent x-ray examination of feet and hands in the first 2 years after presentation is required if we are to identify patients at risk for serious joint damage.