BACKGROUND: The Swedish Palliative Registry is a nationwide quality registry aimed at facilitating improvement in end-of-life care. The goal is for the registry to list and report quality indicators related to care during the last week of life in all cases expected death in Sweden. AIM: To examine the quality of care during the last week of life as reported to the registry for patients with heart disease compared to those with cancer. METHOD: A retrospective registry study. RESULTS: Patients dying of heart disease compared to those dying from cancer had more shortness of breath, fewer drugs prescribed as needed against the usual symptoms and often died alone. Furthermore, they and their close relatives received less information about the imminence of death and bereavement follow-up was less common. The healthcare personnel were less aware of the heart disease patients' symptoms and less often knew about where they wished to die. CONCLUSION: Great differences were found in registered end-of-life care suggesting that the care given to patients with heart disease and cancer was unequal even after adjustment for age, sex and setting at the time of death. If our observational findings are confirmed in future studies there is obviously a need for new models for end-of-life management in order to facilitate the provision of equal care to dying patients regardless of diagnosis.