To evaluate the diagnostic usefulness of temporal artery biopsy in the diagnosis of giant cell arteritis, the clinical records of 98 patients who underwent this procedure between 1984 and 1992 were reviewed. The biopsies were positive for giant cell arteritis in 13 (13%) cases. In addition, 9 patients with negative biopsy were considered to have giant cell arteritis based on clinical examination, while 76 patients had other diagnoses. About 90% of the patients with giant cell arteritis were women. Evaluating the clinical features and laboratory findings, a history of headache, a combination of headache and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate > 40 mm/h and a combination of headache and temporal tenderness were significantly more common among patients with positive diagnosis than among the other patients.