One hundred fine-needle aspirations (45 percutaneous ultrasonically-guided and 55 intraoperative) were performed in 82 patients suspected of having pancreatic cancer, in order to evaluate the contribution of cytologic data to definitive diagnosis of this tumor. The overall success rate of both cytologic methods was 90.6 p. 100 in our 64 patients who were histologically proved to have pancreatic cancer. Sensitivity was 77.4 p. 100 with percutaneous and 75.5 p. 100 with intraoperative aspirations. In all 18 cases with the final diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis results of both techniques were negative. Neither relevant morbidity nor mortality were recorded in any of the 82 patients. These cytologic studies are at present reliable, rapid, highly cost-effective (especially percutaneous aspiration) and most important, safer than histologic examinations. We believe that fine-needle aspiration cytology has gained a primary role in the diagnostic process of pancreatic carcinoma. Therefore the old view of considering examination of cytologic material only as a screening procedure should be abandoned.