The Palliative Performance Scale (PPS), a modification of the Karnofsky Performance Scale, is presented as a new tool for measurement of physical status in palliative care. Its initial uses in Victoria include communication, analysis of home nursing care workload, profiling admissions and discharges to the hospice unit, and, possibly, prognostication. We assessed 119 patients at home, of whom 87 (73%) had a PPS rating between 40% and 70%. Of 213 patients admitted to the hospice unit, 175 (83%) were PPS 20%-50% on admission. The average period until death for 129 patients who died on the unit was 1.88 days at 10% PPS upon admission, 2.62 days at 20%, 6.70 days at 30%, 10.30 days at 40%, 13.87 days at 50%. Only two patients at 60% or higher died in the unit. The PPS may become a basis for comparing drug costs at home and for studying the effects of treatments (e.g. hypodermoclysis) at various levels of physical performance. Validity and reliability testing are currently being undertaken.