Roe deer carcasses (n = 100) were microbiologically examined at the entry point of a cutting plant. The results were compared to approval/condemnation based on visual and olfactory examination performed by the meat inspecting veterinarian. 88% of the heavily contaminated carcasses (greater than or equal to6 log(10) cfu total aerobic count/cm(2) abdominal muscle) were condemned or conditionally approved. Despite of microbial surface contamination, microbial growth was detected in only one core of 100 extensor carpi radialis muscles. No pathological alterations were found, that could not be linked to the mode of killing. From swabs of the thoracal and abdominal cavity, Escherichia coli was isolated in 76, Yersinia enterocolitica in 16, Listeria sp. in nine and Campylobacter sp. in three carcasses. Only two isolates showed antibiotic resistance, with one multiresistant, apathogenic E coli (five antibiotics). The results show that, in this study, hygiene failures during the killing and evisceration of roe deer are of main importance. While veterinary meat inspection is an end-product-oriented control, the continuous training of the hunters might be more effective to prevent hygiene failures.