To describe the epidemiology of biopsy-proven idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM) in South Australia (SA). Cases of IIM were ascertained by review of all muscle biopsy reports from the Neuropathology Laboratory, Hanson Institute (wherein all adult muscle biopsies in SA are reported) from 1980 to 2009. Clinical correlation of these patients by review of medical records was undertaken. SA population denominator numbers were obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Three hundred and fifty-two biopsy-proven cases of IIM were identified between 1980 and 2009. The overall annual incidence of IIM appeared to be rising with a mean incidence of eight cases per million population (95% CI: 7.2-8.9). This corresponded with an increasing annual incidence of inclusion body myositis (IBM) (prevalence of 50.5 cases per million population in 2009, 95% CI: 40.2-62.7). A female preponderance was noted in both dermatomyositis (DM) (F : M = 2.75 : 1.00) and polymyositis (PM) (F : M = 1.55 : 1.00) but gender distribution was almost equal in IBM (F : M = 1.1 : 1.0). Mean age at diagnosis for IBM (67.5 years) was higher than for DM (55.1 years) and PM (59.0 years). A higher proportion of DM patients reported living in urban dwellings and DM patients tended to be predominantly professionals. In SA there is an increasing incidence of IBM and the prevalence is one of the highest reported to date. This may reflect an increase in the number of biopsies performed, improved histological techniques or a genuine increase in incidence.