During the 5-year period, 1997–2001, 1700 patients with a clinical diagnosis of Mycobacterium ulcerans disease [Buruli ulcer (BU)] were treated at the Centre Sanitaire et Nutritionnel Gbemoten, Zagnanado, Benin. The patients lived in the four regions of southern Benin: Atlantique, Mono, Oueme and Zou, with the largest number coming from the Zou Region where the centre is located. The median age of BU patients was 15 years (q1 = 7, q3 = 30). Lower limbs are involved 3.2 times more frequently than upper limbs in older patients and younger patients have the highest prevalence of multiple lesions. The latter are frequently associated with bone lesions. Specific detection rates for age and gender showed a distribution with maximum peaks in the 10–14 years group and among adults between 75 and 79 years. Over 59 years, males are more at risk of developing M. ulcerans disease than females. Children under 15 years represent the largest part of the BU disease burden and of the general population. The highest detection rates (per 100 000 population) were in the 75–79-year-old patients. The most likely explanation of this was reactivation of disease from a latent infection of M. ulcerans. Educational programmes should target especially these two groups of population at risk.