The records of all cases of injury to the cervical spine sustained in road crashes for the 6 year period (1 January 1981 to 31 December 1986) which were admitted to the Spinal Injuries Unit of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, to the Adelaide Children's Hospital, or were identified at post-mortem examination were examined, and the relevant data extracted. There were 291 cases in the non-fatal group, and 161 in the fatal group. These represent a complete enumeration of all such patients in the state of South Australia over the 6 year period, given that up to 50% of cervical injuries in fatal cases can be missed. Comparison of the two groups showed that the fatal group had a much higher proportion of pedestrians, and persons over 50 years of age. About one-half of the fatal group had injuries at the level of C1 or the atlanto-occipital articulation. The most frequent level of injury in the non-fatal group was C2 (29.2%). About 30% of the non-fatal cases had some spinal cord damage. Case fatality rates were calculated, and ranged from 100% for injury at the atlanto-occipital articulation to 8% at C2. The fatality rate of pedestrians was about 4 times higher than that of vehicle occupants. About three-quarters of all cervical spine injuries occurred in vehicle occupants. There was an increase in the number of cases occurring in each year of the period studied. This rise was noted in non-fatal cases, in males, in vehicle occupants, and in crashes in the country.