Since the epidemiology of Chlamydia trachomatis infection in apparently healthy population has not been studied in India, a population-based study was conducted in the state of Tamil Nadu, India in order to analyse the prevalence of genital chlamydial infections in the community and to implement control programmes. A representative sample was taken from three randomly selected districts by using the 'probability proportional to size' cluster survey method. Households were the basic units of clusters. Adults aged 15-45 years, pre-identified from the selected households were enrolled during the medical camps conducted for a major study on community prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases in Tamil Nadu. Blood and urine samples collected from the study subjects were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for anti-chlamydial IgM antibodies and by the commercial Amplicor polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for chlamydial DNA. The prevalence of anti-C. trachomatis antibodies determined by IgM-ELISA was 2.4% (95% CI 1.6%-3.2%). The prevalence of genital chlamydial infection determined by PCR was 1.1% (95% CI 0.5%-1.7%). Majority of the detected infections (68.8%) were asymptomatic. This is the first Indian report on the prevalence of genital chlamydial infections in the general population. It is concluded that this study provides evidence for a substantial burden of approximately 10 million asymptomatic genital chlamydial infection cases in the sexually active age groups in the general population of India.