Determination of the manner of death in the case of intra- and perioral firearm wounds can be difficult especially if death scene investigation is unclear and inadequate. In this study, we investigated some characteristics of these firearm wounds which were autopsied in Istanbul. During the 5-year period from 1991 through 1995, there were 15 intra- and perioral firearm fatalities investigated. In all the cases, only one shot was fired into the mouth. They constituted 1% of all the firearm fatalities. The mean age of the victims was 27 years and males constituted 73.3% of the victims. Most of the wounds were caused by handguns. Homicides accounted for 53.3% of these deaths. Three of 15 cases could not be identified as intraoral firearm wounds by general practitioners during the scene investigations. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.