To estimate the prevalence of chronic regional and widespread musculoskeletal pain in a sample of the general adult population and study the association to age, sex, socioeconomic class, immigration, and housing area. A cross sectional survey with a postal questionnaire to 3928 inhabitants on the west coast of Sweden. The age and sex adjusted prevalence of chronic regional pain (CRP) was 23.9% and chronic widespread pain (CWP) 11.4% among 2425 subjects who responded to the complete questionnaire. Odds ratio (OR) for CWP showed a systematic increasing gradient with age and was highest in the age group 59-74 yrs (OR 6.36, 95% CI 3.85-10.50) vs age group 20-34 yrs. CWP was also associated with female sex (OR 1.91, 95% CI 1.41-2.61), being an immigrant (OR 1.83, 95% CI 1.22-2.77), living in a socially compromised housing area (OR 3.05, 95% CI 1.48-6.27), and being an assistant nonmanual lower level employee (OR 1.92, 95% CI 1.09-3.38) or manual worker (OR 2.72, 95% CI 1.65-4.49) vs being an intermediate/higher nonmanual employee. OR for CRP showed a systematic increasing gradient with age and was highest in the age group 59-74 yrs (OR 2.22, 95% CI 1.62-3.05) vs age group 20-34 yrs. CRP was also associated with being a manual worker (OR 1.63, 95% CI 1.19-2.23) vs being an intermediate/higher nonmanual employee. Chronic musculoskeletal pain is common in the general population. Sociodemographic variables were overall more frequently and strongly associated with CWP than with CRP, which indicates different pathophysiology in the development or preservation of pain in the 2 groups.