Background: Headache is a worldwide problem that affects all ages. To date there are no epidemiological data regarding headaches in Qatar. Aim: The aim of this study was to use the International Headache Society (IHS) diagnostic criteria to estimate the prevalence of migraine and headache in an adult population. Design: This is a cross-sectional population-based study. Setting: The study was carried out at 12 Primary Health Care Centers during the period from October to December 2004 in Qatar. Subjects: Of the 1,200 subjects who were approached to participate in this study, 913 gave their consent, representing a response rate of 76.1%. Methods: Subjects were selected by a multistage stratified sampling procedure. We used the IHS criteria for migraine. Face-to-face interviews were based on a questionnaire that included variables such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, lifestyle habits, exacerbating factors, warning symptoms, associated features, family history and associated factors. Results: Of the studied subjects, 54.9% were males and 45.1% females. The prevalence of headache and migraine among men was 67.9%, 7.8%, and among women 78.2%, 8.0%, respectively. Subjects aged 25-34 years had higher prevalence of headache comparing to other age groups (27.3%). Prevalence of headache was higher in women. Subjects with less than a high school education had higher frequency of headache (49.1%). The most common warning symptoms prior to headache were abnormal vision (53.0%) and weakness (30.4%). Stress (71.8%) and weather (49.5%) made headache worse in subjects. The majority of the headache sufferers looked fora dark (33.7%) and quiet place (74.5%) to rest. Conclusion: Headache disorders constitute a public health problem in a newly developed Qatari society, due to fast urbanization. More women suffered from headache and migraine than men. The study revealed that there was a strong association between hemoglobin level and headache and its severity. Furthermore, the prevalence of headache and migraine in Qatar is higher than in Western and African countries. Copyright (c) 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.