Thyroid carcinoma has been described as occurring more frequently than expected in association with familial adenomatous polyposis. The histology of these cases has not been described in detail, although the reported cases were usually diagnosed as papillary carcinoma. We now report the pathological features of four cases of thyroid carcinoma associated with familial adenomatous polyposis, and review the findings in the literature. The tumours in these four cases were all of follicular cell origin as shown by thyroglobulin immunohistochemistry. In three they were multifocal. The tumours showed some features of papillary carcinoma--grooved nuclei and papillary architecture, but these were not consistent. They also showed features that were unusual for papillary carcinoma--a cribriform pattern and solid areas with spindle cell component. Commonly the tumours combined both patterns. A review of the reported cases of thyroid cancer associated with familial adenomatous polyposis showed that they also were commonly multifocal and occurred predominantly in young women. When the histology was adequately reported or illustrated it was, in most instances, consistent with the findings in our own cases. We therefore suggest that these thyroid tumours form a distinct type with some unusual features. Clearly it is likely that the APC gene is associated with their pathogenesis, and that other factors contribute to the predominantly female incidence in this as in sporadic tumours. Six of 63 reported cases showed metastasis or died from thyroid carcinoma. In a number of cases the tumours presented before the familial adenomatous polyposis was recognized. The findings of these unusual histological features in a thyroid tumour, and particularly of multicentricity, should alert the pathologist to the possibility of familial adenomatous polyposis with its implications for family screening. The tumours are often well demarcated but, because of the multicentricity, total thyroidectomy should be advocated.