The new specialty of palliative medicine is now recognized as making a significant contribution, not only to the practice of cancer medicine, but also to the care of terminal disease. This article reports an enquiry into the current teaching of palliative medicine in undergraduate curricula in Britain. A questionnaire concerning palliative medicine teaching was sent in December 1992 to undergraduate deans of all medical schools, colleges and faculties (hereafter referred to as schools). Replies were received from all and were analysed. Most of the subjects represented by palliative medicine were taught in all schools by palliative medicine specialists or in sessions of other specialisms, or both. Many schools gave opportunity for students to visit local palliative care units or hospices; a few required it as part of the syllabus. The amount of time devoted to this subject in the curricula varied considerably. Eleven per cent of schools regularly asked questions on palliative medicine in final examinations; half occasionally did so, but 30% reported that there was never a question on palliative medicine in finals. In the light of recent publications by the General Medical Council and the Standing Medical Advisory Committee and Standing Nursing and Midwifery Advisory Committee, I urge that increasing attention be paid to teaching the subjects represented by palliative medicine and to examining it. I suggest that the recently published core curriculum will enable this to be carried out more effectively.