Between January 1992 and December 1998, we treated 24 patients with necrotising fasciitis of a limb. There were 15 men and nine women with a mean age of 59.8 years (5 to 86). The infection was usually confused with cellulitis. Exquisite pain and early systemic toxicity were the most consistent clinical features. Diabetes mellitus and hepatic cirrhosis were the most commonly associated medical diseases. One third of the patients died. Those with involvement of the limbs above the knee or elbow on admission had a significantly higher rate of mortality than those with distal lesions (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.027). There was no correlation between mortality and advanced age (Student's t-test, p = 0.22) or between amputation and survival (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.39).