Temporal arteritis is a systemic disease affecting large and medium-sized arteries in the elderly. The incidence of the disease increases with age and its major complications are blindness, cerebrovascular accidents and aortic dissection. Diagnosis is mainly based on clinical signs and symptoms. Temporal artery biopsy is a popular and simple diagnostic procedure and if positive confirms the diagnosis. However, a negative biopsy cannot exclude temporal arteritis due to its segmental nature, and the specific signs and symptoms still require treatment with corticosteroids. During the years 1982-1991 we performed 206 temporal artery biopsies, of which only 21 (10.2%) confirmed the presence of temporal arteritis. Our experience is presented with regard to the usefulness of temporal artery biopsy in particular. In view of the low biopsy yield we recommend more selective referral for this purpose.