In a consecutive series of 44 deaths of male prisoners in Brisbane Prison, a maximum-security prison, in the 15-year period 1973-1987, 20 deaths were a result of suicide. More than half the suicides occurred within the first two months in custody. Prisoners on remand were more prone to commit suicide than were sentenced prisoners. A history of psychiatric disorder was frequent, and more than one-third of the prisoners previously had received psychiatric inpatient treatment. In 40% of cases suicide had been attempted previously. Hanging was the usual method of suicide. The application of preventive measures in the presence of risk factors for suicide at the present level of knowledge are discussed.