The value of ultrasound in the diagnosis of a large rapidly growing thyroid mass was assessed in a study of 42 patients with a large (> 3 cm) rapidly growing (< two months) solitary mass. Haemorrhage into a thyroid nodule was present in 31 patients and thyroid malignancy in 11. Ultrasound of haemorrhage into a thyroid nodule revealed a large cystic mass in all 31 patients containing internal debris (22), septations (three), or a combination of both (six). The malignant causes of a large rapidly growing mass were lymphoma (two), anaplastic carcinoma (four) and metastasis (five). Ultrasound of these thyroid malignancies revealed a mass with a smooth, well-defined margin and strikingly low homogeneous echogenicity in all cases. Patients with thyroid metastases had evidence of widespread metastatic disease elsewhere. Lymphoma was differentiated from anaplastic carcinoma on fine-needle aspiration cytology or surgical biopsy. Ultrasound was of value in differentiating between a benign haemorrhagic nodule and a malignant tumour. The various malignant tumours had similar appearances, however, and could not be distinguished on ultrasound.