A trial was carried out to examine some of the factors involved in the possible deterioration in pig meat quality associated with the trend towards leaner carcasses. Five batches of pigs, each one as far as possible from the same producer, were identified at each of 10 abattoirs. Three gilts and three entire males were selected from each batch to show a range of fatness. Overall mean fat thickness measurements over the m, longissimus at the last rib (P2, mm) for lean, average and fat carcasses were 8·8, 11·6, and 16·9 (gilts) and 8·4, 11·7 and 15·5 (entire males). The overall mean carcass weight was 58 kg. Loin and leg joints were assessed for cutting and presentational characteristics by a panel of 45 butchers. Loin chops and shoulder and leg joints were assessed for eating characteristics by consumer panels involving a total of 500 families. Butchers judged the fat of lean carcasses to be softer and the meat to be floppier and with more tissue separation. Entire males also had slight disadvantages in these respects. Consumers found the chops of lean carcasses to be less juicy on average (0·16 lean carcasses were judged to have dry chops compared with 0·09 for fat carcasses) with a tendency towards toughness and less flavour. There were no differences in overall acceptability. Meat from the two sexes did not differ in eating quality or overall acceptability to consumers. The butchers were more critical of overlean carcasses than were consumers. The trial indicates that the trend towards leaner carcasses is likely to create butchery problems but not consumer dissatisfaction.