AIMS--To identify the number and geographical distribution of post mortem examinations performed on HIV infected cadavers; to identify the areas that perform post mortem examinations so that, by invitation and discussion, a national post mortem network could be initiated. METHODS--A nationwide survey of Royal College of Pathologists' district tutors (n = 216) was done by postal questionnaire. These were completed by the district tutors or passed on to their histopathologist colleagues. The results were collated after three months. After one follow up letter, an 86% response rate, which is a significant sample, was achieved. RESULTS--Twenty eight per cent of respondents were performing HIV post mortem examinations. Of those who were not performing them (30%), the lack of clinical or coroner requests was the most common explanation. All regions provide facilities for HIV post mortem examinations, as judged by the responses. CONCLUSIONS--These findings are of singular importance as it is the first United Kingdom survey investigating the distribution of post mortem examinations on HIV infected cadavers. Studying post mortem material using a systemic, coordinated collection of brain tissue is essential to increase knowledge of a new disease of pandemic proportions.