This report is an analysis of the medical records of 83 patients registered between 1960 and 1980 at Helsinki University Central Hospital as having malignant pleural mesothelioma. 65 of 83 patients had histologically confirmed malignant mesothelioma, and are the focus of this analysis. The remaining 18 (22%) patients were excluded because malignant mesothelioma was only confirmed cytologically, or because the primary tumor was not a mesothelioma. The ratio of men to women was 2:1.30 of 65 (46%) patients were not known or not likely to have been exposed to asbestos. The main symptoms at presentation were dyspnea, cough, chest pain, fatigue and weight loss. The median survival from diagnosis was 12 months, and from the onset of symptoms 18 months. Clinical stage and performance status were significant prognostic factors. Hematogenous metastases were present at autopsy in most cases. Disease and performance status therefore need to be well established and documented in clinical trials involving mesothelioma.