To use existing data sources to refine prior estimates of the U.S. emergency medicine (EM) workforce and to estimate effects of proposed changes in the U.S. health care system on the EM workforce. Relevant data were extracted from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) 1995 Membership Activity Report, the American Medical Association (AMA) publication "1995/96 Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the U.S.," the American Hospital Association (AHA) 1994 hospital directory, a written survey of each state's medical licensing board and state medical society, and the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) annual activity report for 1995. These data were used to project workforce supply and demand estimates applicable to workforce models. None of the available information sources had complete data on the number and distribution of emergency physicians (EPs) currently practicing in the United States. Extrapolating the limited reliable statewide EP numbers to make nationwide projections reveals a shortage of EPs needed to fully staff the nation's existing EDs. At least 22 states had an average ratio of < 5 EPs per existing ED. Additional national projections incorporating a decreasing number of U.S. EDs indicate that the current annual number of EM residency graduates will not eliminate the deficit of EPs for at least several decades, given that projected numbers of retiring EPs annually will soon equal the total annual EM residency graduate production. Although the current data on EPs in practice in the United States are incomplete, the authors project a relative shortage of EPs. More accurate and complete information on the numbers and distribution of EPs in America is needed to improve workforce projections.