It has been suggested that the provision of HLA matched tissue for corneal tranplantation would be beneficial for graft survival especially in high risk patients. In this study we report the application of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based tissue typing procedure to type cadaveric donor material. Using beta-globin gene amplification as a test system we found that cornea, corneal rim, conjuctiva, sclera, rectus muscle, optic nerve and neural retina were all suitable for PCR amplification but DNA extracted from pigment epithelial cells and from the iris could not be amplified. HLA DQA typing results of 9 samples identified 5 alleles and 7 genotypes. In two cases the antigens detected by serology reflected the alleles detected by PCR. In a third case in which the class II serological typing was inconclusive we detected two DQA alleles by PCR. These alleles were consistent with those which would be predicted to be present on the basis of known linkage disequilibrium between HLA-Cw, B, DR and DQ.In this study we have shown that PCR based tissue typing is more sensitive and gives more detailed typing results than serology and would be suitable to type cadaveric donor material on a routine basis.