Homicide followed by suicide is a rare but tragic event. Psychiatrists and mental health professionals are often called upon to comment publicly on the event or to help the "hidden victims," the survivors of the tragedy. There were 39 such cases in Quebec between 1988 and 1990, and they have been reviewed through the examination of the coroner's files. The epidemiological rates of homicide, suicide, homicide-suicide and the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of the perpetrators and victims are presented and compared with the international literature. Sociological and psychopathological hypotheses are presented with a special reference to the possibility of various subgroups of perpetrators. Research needs to be pursued along the lines of more detailed case studies of psychopathological characteristics using the psychological autopsy approach. The reconstruction of the couple's relationship and of the final circumstances leading up to the tragedy may provide warning indices that could be helpful in preventing such tragedies.