The trends in necropsy rates during the 1980s in three groups of British teaching hospitals in Leicester, Manchester, and Sheffield were compared in a retrospective study. The clinical necropsy rates declined in all three cities: in Leicester, from 16 to 10 per cent; in Manchester, from 14 to 8 per cent; and in Sheffield from 18 to 11 per cent. The medico-legal and overall necropsy rates showed variable trends between the cities. Specific events and changes in organization during the review period were correlated with the changing trends. The observed trends emphasize the continued decline in clinical necropsy rates over the last decade and illustrate the importance of monitoring differential necropsy rates.