Published data on the role of fibreoptic bronchoscopy in the investigation of pleural effusions are sparse and conflicting. We have reviewed our experience from November 1980 to December 1986. Thirty-two patients were identified from bronchoscopy records as having undergone the procedure during the evaluation of an effusion. Fibreoptic bronchoscopy was diagnostic in 6 of the 32 cases, but less invasive procedures had given the diagnosis in 4, and in the other 2 cases radiological abnormalities other than the effusion suggested an underlying bronchial malignancy. We conclude that routine fibreoptic bronchoscopy is not justified in the evaluation of pleural effusions.