Objectives To document pro re nata (PRN) prescribing practices and to identify patterns with respect to clinical characteristics and the medications prescribed. Design Prospective consecutive case note review. Setting Two interrelated consultative hospice and palliative care services in regional Victoria, Australia. Participants Terminally ill inpatients and community-based individuals (N = 203) at the time of referral to a hospice or palliative care service. Measurements Number of medications that the referring physician prescribed on a PRN basis and on a regular basis for symptom control; comorbid disease, performance status, comorbidity burden, disease phase, and survival. Results Mean number of PRN medications prescribed was 3.0, with significantly higher rates in the last week of life (rate ratio (RR) = 1.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.07-1.59) and during the terminal phase of disease (RR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.09-1.68). One-quarter of prescriptions were for medications that met the Beers consensus criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in elderly persons. Conclusion These descriptive baseline data are new. A mean of three different medications allows responsiveness to a variety of fluctuating symptoms, but there was a large range within the sample, indicating that some individuals and their caregivers have a high burden of administration-related decision-making.