Being able to die where you plan is a measure of quality of life near death, in that it implies awareness of diagnosis and prognosis, adequate symptom control and involvement in decision-making in late-stage HIV disease. This study presents trends in place of death for patients attending a large central London HIV centre and examines whether patients dying over a 6-month period in 1994 were able to die where they planned. Early in the epidemic almost all people with HIV died in hospital, but in the late 1980s there was an increase in death at home and in hospices. Of people attending this hospital in 1994, 46% died in hospital, 31% at home, 20% in hospices and 2% abroad. A total of 59% of deaths were where the dying person had planned. Most unplanned deaths were in hospital, two-thirds being due to an unexpected deterioration which precluded planning. The rest were a mixture of people waiting for discharge to die elsewhere, and people who wished to continue active treatment. This pattern of place of death is unlikely to change in the near future. It is therefore essential that hospitals can provide for the needs of patients dying on acute wards.