Cadavers remain a principal teaching tool for anatomists and medical educators teaching gross anatomy. Infectious pathogens in cadavers that present particular risks include Mycobacterium tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, the AIDS virus HIV, and prions that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome (GSS). It is often claimed that fixatives are effective in inactivation of these agents. Unfortunately cadavers, even though they are fixed, may still pose infection hazards to those who handle them. Specific safety precautions are necessary to avoid accidental disease transmission from cadavers before and during dissection and to decontaminate the local environment afterward. In this brief review, we describe the infectious pathogens that can be detected in cadavers and suggest safety guidelines for the protection of all who handle cadavers against infectious hazards. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.