A study of the diagnosis of hepatic and pancreatic malignancies by fine needle aspiration (FNA) was made, based on 221 aspirates obtained from 209 patients with histologic or clinical confirmation: 159 with hepatic and 50 with pancreatic lesions. The values of sensitivity, specificity and predictivity for positive FNA results were, respectively, 0.84, 0.96 and 1.0 for the liver and 0.76, 1.0 and 1.0 for the pancreas. The composition of the case material showed an incidence of malignant tumors of the liver and pancreas of 84% and 60%, respectively (among which the primary malignancies were 39% and 48%), while nonneoplastic lesions had incidences of 14% and 40%. However, conclusive FNA diagnoses of the histologic type of the primary and the site of origin of metastatic tumors were made in 60% of the hepatic lesions but in only 9% of the pancreatic lesions. Primary hepatocellular carcinoma was diagnosed by FNA of the liver in 95% of the cases; FNA specifically diagnosed 42% of intrahepatic bile duct carcinomas and 40% of hepatic metastases. These findings correlate with the unique cytologic features of primary hepatocellular carcinoma of intrahepatic rather nonspecific morphology of carcinoma of intrahepatic and extrahepatic origin, as well as of pancreatic ductal origin.