The aim of this study was to compare in-hospital deaths in different hospital settings between 1850 and 2000 in Vienna. We reviewed 120 autopsy records for each of the selected years from the Clinical Institute of Pathology of the Medical University Vienna and two community hospitals. In 2000 the autopsy rate was 37.5 % at the community hospitals and 52.5 % at the university hospital. The mean age of those being dissected was significantly lower compared with those not being dissected in the community hospital. Infections were the leading cause of death during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, after 1950 the rate of cardiovascular diseases and cancer increased. In the year 2000 the majority of patients with an underlying malignant disease died because of cardiovascular disease. Causes of death vary between institutions. They should be reported as accurately as possible in order to create a cogent basis for central mortality statistics.