A random sample of 1,019 adults 65 years of age and older, living in their own homes, consented to a clinical dental examination and an interview. Eight hundred nine subjects were dentate and 210 were edentulous. Each dentate person was examined for caries and periodontal conditions, as well as a separate determination of restorative and extraction treatment needs. Most people in this study lacked restorative treatment needs of any kind. Blacks required restorative treatment and extractions more often than whites. Carious coronal and root surfaces, pocket depths, number of teeth, as well as educational level and time since last visit to the dentist were related to treatment needs. While clinical findings were related to treatment needs, precise determinations of treatment needs of this elderly population generally could not be based solely on clinical findings. Additional behavioral, social, and health factors appear to play a role in dentists' decisions when determining treatment needs of older persons.