PURPOSE: The purpose of this descriptive study was to gain basic data to develop a self-care protocol for the lymphedema patients. METHOD: The subjects of this study consisted of 115 patients with lymphedema from 8 hospitals and two community health and welfare centers in Busan and Seoul. The data was collected with questionnaire by self reporting of patients between March 2001 and December 2001. Data was analyzed by mean and percentage. RESULT: For self-care activities in daily life, compliance of 'use skin care preparations', 'use heat and cold', 'protect from local compression on affected limbs', 'protect from insect biting', 'use aids to protect affected limbs', 'take diuretics and take protein diet' did not reach to 50%. For self-care activities related to complex physical therapy, 28.7% of subjects complied with compression garment, 14.8% with manual lymph drainage, and 13.0% with exercise. 20.0% of subjects tried to treat with acupuncture and 13.9% with heat therapy. CONCLUSION: From this study, it is suggested that patients need to get a self-care education with correct information about self care activities and health care professionals need to develop more convenience self-care techniques of massage and exercise.