A prospective population-based cohort study with a nested case-control study was conducted to estimate the incidence of gastroenteritis and the associated pathogens in the general Dutch population. Follow-up of two consecutive cohorts was performed by weekly reporting cards from December 1998 to December 1999. Cases and controls in the case-control study supplied a questionnaire and stool samples. The standardized gastroenteritis incidence was 283 per 1,000 person-years. The incidence rose with increasing level of education and was higher for persons with a history of diarrhea and for young children. Bacterial pathogens accounted for 5% of cases, bacterial toxins for 9%, parasites for 6%, and viral pathogens for 21%, with Norwalk-like virus (NLV) as the leading pathogen in 11% of cases. The gastroenteritis incidence was higher than that reported for England, but lower than for the United States. In community cases, viral pathogens are the leading cause of gastroenteritis, with NLV being the number one cause of illness in all age groups but one. In many countries, preventive measures are implemented to decrease bacterial infections. However, additional prevention of viral infections, especially NLV, might significantly decrease the number of gastroenteritis cases in the community.