As this is the 30th anniversary of the publication of our paper "Diffuse pleural mesotheliomas and asbestos exposure in the north west Cape Province," and 1 December 1990 is the first anniversary of John Gilson's death, I think it is appropriate to subunit this paper. It covers the background of the discovery of the series of mesotheliomas in the north western region of the Cape Province, and the subsequent publication, which has become the most cited paper in industrial medicine. It was John Gilson who directed the next phase, which substantiated this discovery. He clarified the situation in his summary of the report to the director of the International Agency for Research in Cancer in 1972. This I have quoted in full and have had the temerity to update to 1990. I am sure that many will want to elaborate these views, and I hope that they will submit their opinions to this journal.