- Hypothermia in the elderly is a medical emergency with mortality varying from 32-80%. Its most frequent predisposing factors, as reported in the current literature, are extremes of age, cold environment and alcoholism. In the Negev (southern region of Israel, mostly desert area) the mean temperature range during November-March is 9.6 to 15.2 degrees C and during April-October, 16-25.9 degrees C. The records of all patients with hypothermia, aged 65 and above admitted over a 5-year period (1984-1988) were reviewed (44 admissions of 39 patients of whom 23 were females). 34 were admitted during the winter months and 10 during the rest of the year. Important associated or predisposing conditions included infections in 54.5%, renal failure in 29.5% and diabetes mellitus in 29.5%. Alcoholism (13.6%) was relatively infrequent. Those of Asian or African origin appeared to be at greater risk, constituting 73% of admissions, but only 47% of the elderly population of the Negev. The annual incidence of up to 4/1000 of elderly patients admitted to our medical wards, which serve a population of 350000, indicates that hypothermia is not rare in this desert region.