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Little has been published on the risks of participating in an expedition. A questionnaire survey was conducted to quantify those risks and to determine how expedition organizers plan for medical mishaps. 246 expeditions, taking 2381 participants to more than one hundred countries, were studied retrospectively. 65 expeditions (26%) reported no medical incidents; the remaining 181 reported 835 in 130,000 man-days (6.4 per 1000 man-days). 59% of the medical incidents seen on expeditions were preventable, one-third of these being due to gastrointestinal upsets. 78% of medical incidents were classified as minor and only 5% (40) as serious. There was no excess of serious incidents in any particular organizational group or environment. The findings of this survey suggest that the health risks of participating in a well-planned expedition are similar to those encountered during normal active life.