This paper reviews recent data relating to the efficiency and humaneness of the methods used to kill minke whales in commercial and special permit whaling operations. In the 1980s a grenade-headed harpoon was developed for minke whaling. Most recent results indicate that in the Norwegian industry approximately 60 per cent of whales were considered to be killed immediately by this harpoon, with 40 per cent being wounded. However, in Japanese whaling operations, generally only 30 per cent of whales were killed immediately, with 70 per cent being wounded. In both operations, more than six minutes elapsed before half the wounded whales were pronounced dead, with some whales surviving for more than an hour after being harpooned. Many of the long killing times were associated with a failure of a part of the whaling equipment.