A shortage of donors remains the major limiting factor as regards the number of kidney and heart transplants performed in South Africa each year. The medical, legal and administrative aspects of cadaveric organ donation in this country are reviewed. The pathophysiology of brain death and the criteria necessary for a definite diagnosis are described, together with the criteria for the selection of cadaveric organ donors. The statutory requirements pertaining to the removal of human hearts and kidneys for the purposes of transplantation are detailed. The subsequent management of the brain-dead donor up to the time of excision of the required organ is described, and a note regarding the preservation and transportation of the donor organs is added.