The aims were to determine the proportion of terminal cancer patients in South Australia who had involvement with a programme of hospice care, to identify the predictors of hospice involvement, and to consider the influence of hospice services, along with other variables, on the place of death. A file of patients of the State's hospice services who died in 1990 was compiled and linked to the population-based Central Cancer Register. We found that 1561 (56%) of the 2800 cancer patients who died in 1990 had care from a hospice service. Patients were less likely to be involved with a hospice service if they were 80 years or older, lived in a rural region, or had a haematological malignancy, and more likely to have hospice care if they had a survival time of more than six months, or were born in the UK or Europe. Patients of hospice services were more likely than other patients to die at home or in an inpatient hospice, and less likely to die in a nursing home or private hospital. A range of other factors were also found to be associated with place of death. We conclude that there has been a rapid acceptance of hospice care in South Australia, with a majority of the target population of cancer patients covered by services. Epidemiological research methods are useful for identifying gaps in the provision of care, and for determining the impact of various factors on where people die. This research is, therefore, important for the formulation and evaluation of policy for the delivery of terminal care.