Malignant pleural mesothelioma is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos dust. Recent epidemiological studies have suggested that the national incidence of disease may continue to rise until 2020 and that asbestos exposure in the building trade may be replacing shipyard related exposure as the main source of disease. The objective of the study was to determine if the incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma was rising in the west of Glasgow from 1987-1992 and whether there had been a change in clinical features compared to previous studies from the same population. Case notes identified from coded returns and the local cancer registry were retrospectively examined: 144 cases were identified. This is an increase in incidence of over 50% compared to the previous study but the yearly incidence did not rise over the period studied. The clinical features and survival times have not changed since previous studies: median survival remains 30 weeks. Only three patients were given definitive treatment reflecting the lack of effective therapy. We suggest that the incidence of mesothelioma in the population studied may already have peaked resulting from the decline in the local shipyard industry over 20 years ago. Non-shipyard sources of asbestos exposure may be less important in this area.