Past exposure to well water and pesticides was assessed in 128 unselected Parkinson's disease (PD) patients and 256 age and sex-matched controls. All were residents in a defined urban area of Madrid, Spain. In keeping with other reports, we found that exposure to well water might be a factor associated with the likelihood of developing PD, though only prolonged exposures of 30 years or longer were significantly different between PD and controls (p less than 0.02). In contrast, past exposure to pesticides did not appear to be associated with an increased risk of developing PD. Prolonged well water drinking antedating the development of PD was not associated with early onset of the disease, nor did such cases progress to greater disability. Future case-control studies addressing prolonged well water consumption as a risk factor in PD should look for differences in the content of substances other than pesticides in the water as determined by the source of water to which patients may have been specifically exposed.