The value of the lateral radiograph in patients who have sustained facial trauma has been assessed. Three observers each assessed 200 sets of facial radiographs randomly containing either three- (occipito mental, occipito mental 30 and lateral) or two-film series (lateral excluded). No additional fractures were detected with three films. A sensitivity of 90% and a positive predictive value of 0.90 was seen with both three and two-film series. Specificity was 99.3% with three films and 97.3% with two films. These differences are not statistically significant. We conclude that the lateral film can safely be excluded from the initial assessment of patients with facial trauma.