We set out to assess the prevalence during the previous year of migraine in a rural area surrounding the Mnero Diocesan Hospital in Southern-Tanzania. A door-to-door survey from August until December 1999 using a questionnaire based on the criteria of the International Headache Society (IHS), including 1047 households with 3351 persons, was done, consisting of a screening dialogue with a representative family member followed by a face-to-face interview with the affected subject. Of the 3351 participants (female 1876; male 1475; age > 10 years), 23.1% had suffered from headache during the past year; overall prevalence of migraine was 5.0% (female 7.0%; male 2.6%); 1.4% reported migraine without aura (female 1.8%; male 0.9%); and 3.6% reported migraine with aura (female 5.2%, male 1.6%). The peak prevalence was found in female persons in the fourth (11.1%), in male persons in the third decade of life (3.8%). Compared with other African surveys, the prevalence rate of migraine headache in South Tanzania is slightly higher than among Ethiopian and Zimbabwean Africans.