This prospective study followed 35 patients admitted to hospital with malignant bowel obstruction (MBO) to evaluate quality of life (QOL). Subjects completed the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and Rotterdam Symptom Checklist (RSCL) at recruitment, and at one week, one month and three months.The highest ranked ESAS scores at recruitment (which was generally 18-36 hours post admission to hospital) included loss of appetite (median=7.5), fatigue (6.5) and overall well-being (6.0). The total ESAS score improved by 7.5, 11.5 and 11.0 points respectively at one week, one month and three months (p<0.05, p<0.01, NS).RSCL median scores for physical and psychological subscales were high at baseline (36.2, 42.9) and improved significantly at one week and one month (p<0.05). Psychological functioning appeared to be worsening by three months and at no time did activity level improve significantly. The overall QOL score was extremely poor at baseline (6.0 median) improving to 3.3 at one month (median fall=1.0, p<0.05) and 3.4 at three months.Further work should address the lack of improvement in activity and apparent deterioration in psychological functioning after one month.