AIM--To demonstrate the role of cytopathology in examining tumours found at post mortem examination. METHODS--Tumour deposits were found in 25 hospital necropsies. Cytological diagnosis made at the time of necropsy was compared with subsequent paraffin wax embedded histological sections. RESULTS--In 19 out of 20 cases with no previous histological diagnosis, cytology at the time of necropsy provided rapid and accurate assessment of tumour type. Subsequent histological examination of formalin fixed material merely refined the diagnosis in some cases. In the remaining five cases in which tumour type was known, cytological examination of deposits found at necropsy provided extra information that was useful for compiling a provisional report. CONCLUSIONS--Rapid cytological examination of tumours found during post mortem examinations provides accurate relevant information which can be used to produce a more comprehensive provisional necropsy report. The technique has advantages over frozen section histology and can provide useful cytological experience for histopathology trainees.