The objective of this study was to determine the extent of medical students' experience of death and dying. A questionnaire was given to two groups of Birmingham medical students at the beginning of clinical studies (third year) and in the final year which was designed to estimate their experience of death and of dying people. The questionnaire also explored the students' attitudes to their own future deaths. Questionnaires were returned by 119 third-year and 143 final-year students. Students had little experience of death and what they did have was largely acquired before entry to medical school or in their social rather than medical lives. Where they did have experience of death this was often traumatic and there was little chance for them to have counselling about it. There is need for increased teaching about death and dying particularly before clinical training and at the time of graduation. Another time may be at the beginning of human dissection.