Much has been written about working with the dying. Few, if any, controlled studies have examined the application of principles set forth. The authors evaluate the effectiveness of working with dying cancer patients by assessing changes in quality of life, physical functioning, and survival. One-hundred twenty men with end-stage cancer were randomly assigned to experimental or control groups; the 62 experimental group patients were seen regularly by a counselor. Patients were assessed before random assignment and at one, three, six, nine, and 12 months on quality of live and functional status. Experimental group patients improved significantly more than the control group on quality of life within three months. Functional status and survival did not differ between groups. A subsample of lung cancer patients provided cross-validation of findings. Although survival was not expected to differ, it was predicted that functioning would be enhanced if quality of life improved. One interpretation is that little can be done to alter physical function and survival when intervention occurs late in the progression of a fatal disease. This in no way reduces the value of improving overall quality of life, since enhancing the quality of survival for end-stage cancer patients is a high priority medical goal.