The frequency with which residual carcinoma was encountered in 33 simple hysterectomy and 52 radical hysterectomy specimens from women who had squamous cell carcinoma (67), adenocarcinoma (8), adenosquamous carcinoma (3) and other tumours (7) of the cervix was studied. Predicted pathological stage was IaI (32 cases), IaII (10), Ib (16) and IIa tumour (1). Patients whose original procedure consisted of a punch biopsy were predicted to have microinvasive disease (Stage IaI or IaII - 10 cases) and Ib lesions (11 cases). One patient's initial investigation consisted of a curettage and in four patients the stage could not be predicted. Margins of the original specimen were assessable in 54 cases (28 positive, 26 uninvolved). Residual tumour was identified in 32 cases and in eight was of higher stage than predicted. It was most likely to be identified if the original diagnosis was made on punch biopsy with no intervening treatment or in Stage IaII disease or greater. These results highlight the importance of thorough examination of the cervix attached to a hysterectomy specimen in patients with a diagnosis of invasive cervical carcinoma.