Despite repeated calls for palaeopathology to move away from descriptive case reports towards quantitative, problem-orientated work, case reports still form a high proportion of palaeopathology journal publications. This work assesses, using citation analysis, the impact of the case report relative to that of other types of study in palaeopathology. Results suggest that case studies are cited less often than other types of publication, but that this deficit is less marked than in the clinical sciences where the case report has been effectively marginalised. It is suggested that although a reduction in the proportion of publications in palaeopathology made up of case reports may be desirable, and would be an indication of maturation of the discipline, well-directed case reports will continue to play a role, albeit a diminishing one, in advancing the field. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.