In Norway the percentage of autopsies has gradually decreased during the 1986 to 1994 period. As a consequence, the Cause of Death Registry has to rely to a greater extent on physicians' certificates only. The overall percent of autopsies was reduced from 13.8% in 1986 to 9.1% in 1994 (Haukeland Hospital, Bergen, not included). The frequency decreased with age, was lowest in women, and differed according to cause of death. In the examined age groups of 0 year, 1-59 years and 60 years and above the percentage changes were as follows in women: 69.9% to 48.9%, 35.8% to 27.2%; 11.5% to 5.7%. In men the changes were: 72.2% to 54.7%; 44.5% to 39.2%; 15.1% to 8.65%. Deaths due to cancer, congenital disorders and perinatal deaths were all validated if possible. About 40% of deaths due to accidents, poisoning and violence were validated. Myocardial infarctions were autopsied more frequently than stroke. The extent of validation of cause of death during this period is discussed.