Background Hand eczema is prevalent in the general population. It remains unclear whether or not filaggrin gene (FLG) null mutations increase the overall risk of hand eczema or only increase the risk of hand eczema in subjects with atopic dermatitis. Objectives To investigate the association between FLG null mutations and hand eczema. Methods A random sample of 3335 adults from the general population in Denmark was patch tested, FLG genotyped for R501X and 2282del4 null mutations and questioned about hand eczema. Results Participants with combined presence of atopic dermatitis and FLG null mutation status had a significantly higher prevalence of hand eczema, an earlier onset of hand eczema and a higher persistence of hand eczema compared with subjects with normal FLG status and absence of atopic dermatitis. Logistic regression analyses revealed positive associations between hand eczema within the past 12 months and FLG null mutation status in participants with a history of atopic dermatitis [odds ratio (OR) 2·98; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1·27-7·01], but not in subjects without atopic dermatitis (OR 0·82; 95% CI 0·41-1·67). Conclusions FLG null mutations were significantly associated with hand eczema (< 12 months) in subjects with atopic dermatitis. Combined atopic dermatitis and filaggrin null mutation status was strongly associated with early onset of hand eczema and hand eczema persistence.