OBJECTIVES: This study was conducted to investigate the prevalence of playing-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMDs) of some music college freshmen majoring in string instruments. METHODS: The study subjects were 199 freshmen majoring in strings at three colleges in Seoul and surrounds. The symptom prevalence and related factors of PRMDs were surveyed with a self-administered questionnaire. The Southampton Protocol was used to diagnose PRMDs. RESULTS: The freshmen had played for 9 years and 7 months on average. The symptom prevalence of PRMDs according to the modified-NIOSH surveillance criteria was 73.4%. The shoulder was the most prevalent symptom complaint site. The prevalence of PRMDs by the Southampton Protocol was 54.3% and myofascial pain syndrome was the most common. The instrument (violin or viola vs. cello or bass), regular breaks, self perceived evaluation of playing posture and regular computer use had a significant association with the symptom prevalence of PRMDs in univariate logistic regression analysis (p<0.05). The instrument, regular breaks and regular computer use were significant variables affecting the symptom prevalence of PRMDs in multivariate logistic regression analysis (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that music college freshmen playing strings are a high risk group for musculoskeletal disorders. Therefore, the prevention of PRMDs requires the establishment of an ergonomic playing-environment, and the education of comfortable posture and stretching program such as musical warming up and physical stretching. It is especially important to form an effective treatment and rehabilitation system based on earlier diagnosis for musicians who are suffering from the PRMDs.