Medico-legal investigation into causes of unexpected death of five persons who suffered from eating disorders did not give distinct pathoanatomical explanations. The analysis disclosed a number of risk factors whose interplay may have resulted in a circulatory catastrophy. These factors were of organisational and ideological character: simultaneous treatment at different departments, lack of contact with psychiatrists, or unclear criteria for admission to hospital; or somatic: circulatory and electrocardiographic S-T and T wave abnormalities, hypopotassemia and hypoglycemia, as well as anergy of the emaciated patient which may have led to symptoms of bronchopneumonia being overlooked. Morphological investigation revealed heart atrophy as well as recent lesions such as haemorrhages, fragmentation and contraction bands of the myofibres. In two extremely emaciated patients there was a disproportion between the size of the mitral valves and the atrophic ventricular wall, an appearance similar to "floppy valves". In one instance an erroneously inserted gastric tube contributed to vomiting, hypopotassemia and sudden death.