The purpose of this study is to identify the level of foodborne illness in the elderly population of the United States and to examine changes over time in these patterns. The analysis is based upon the National Hospital Discharge Survey done by the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1987 to 1993. A list of foodborne illness is developed using International Classification of Disease Codes, 9th Revision. Major findings are that the amount of foodborne illness for patients 65 years of age and older who were discharged form hospitals is increasing. Demographic characteristics of age, sex, marital status, and race are associated with different levels of foodborne illness. The specific diseases of other causes accounted for the majority of illness reported on the discharge certificate. In conclusion, the data analyzed provides a conservative estimate of the magnitude of this growing health problem for the elderly in the United States.