INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to review the literature concerning of the prevalence of fibromyalgia in general population using the criteria from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). METHODS: The literature envolved the period of 1990 to 2005, in the databases Medline, Lilacs, Embase and ISI. The keywords "fibromialgia" and "prevalência" and the correspondents in English "fibromyalgia" and "prevalence" had been used. It was selected 97 articles and after reading the summaries, the ones related to the fibromyalgia prevalence with oher diseases were excluded. Only 30 articles evoked the subject prevalence of the fibromyalgia in the population. The selected articles were grouped in five items: a) the prevalence of fibromyalgia in adult populations; b) prevalence of fibromyalgia in women; c) prevalence of fibromyalgia in children and adolescents; d) prevalence of fibromyalgia in specific populations; e) prevalence of chronic and diffuse pain in the population according to the ACR criteria. RESULTS: Literature points that the prevalence of fibromyalgia in the general population has values between 0,66 and 4,4%, being more prevalent in women than in men, especially in individuals aged between 35 to 60 years. Studies involving children, adolescents or other special groups are few or inconclusive. The prevalence of chronic and diffuse pain in general population althoug rarily been studied points to values between 11 and 13%. CONCLUSION: More studies on prevalence of chronic and diffuse pain must be stimulated, as well as the ones concerning prevalence in the adult population, children and young.
fibromyalgia; prevalence; population