The conventional Papanicolaou smear is associated with variable false positive and false negative rates, difficulties with interpretation and high unsatisfactory and suboptimal rates. Newer fluid-based methods such as the ThinPrep 2000 system (Cytyc Corp., Boxborough, MA) are said to overcome these difficulties. The aim of this study was to compare the conventional smear with the ThinPrep method in a busy, routine cytology screening laboratory setting. One thousand split samples were evaluated. Using ThinPrep, the results showed an increased sensitivity and a dramatic improvement in specimen adequacy, with a combined 17.2% reduction in 'unsatisfactory' and 'suboptimal' reports. Screening time per slide was also reduced to 3-4 min. In conclusion, we report an increase in sensitivity, a reduction in screening time and a dramatic improvement in specimen adequacy with the ThinPrep method.