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Previous studies of nasal function after laryngectomy have suggested that patients must accept complete and irreversible anosmia as an inevitable consequence of the operation, and that this is due to interruption of a poorly defined neuronal interaction between larynx and nose. In this study nasal function was investigated in 23 laryngectomees and 10 patients about to undergo laryngectomy. Scanning electron microscopy showed a more densely ciliated nasal epithelium in the laryngectomees compared with the preoperative controls, and nasal mucociliary transport, measured by saccharine clearance, was significantly faster (P less than 0.01) in laryngectomees. Olfactory acuity, as determined by the threshold for detection of insufflated pyridine vapour, was normal in laryngectomees. Some laryngectomees did have a relatively normal sense of smell; these were shown to be those who had discovered a technique of sniffing using buccopharyngeal rather than respiratory musculature. These findings have obvious implications for the rehabilitation of laryngectomees, many of whom may otherwise have to contend with distressing anosmia as well as the other physical and psychological consequences of the operation.