Studies using medical examiner cases are useful in monitoring drug use in special populations. This study assesses the presence of cocaine and its metabolite, benzoylecgonine (BE), opiates and ethanol in all homicide victims who were injured and who survived two hours or less after injury in 1990 and 1991 in New York City. There were 2824 homicides in the study period and cocaine and/or BE were found in 884 (31.3%) of cases. In over half of the cases positive for cocaine/BE, ethanol or opiates were found. African-Americans and Latinos were much more likely than whites or Asians to be positive for cocaine/BE. There were no differences between men and women in regard to being positive for cocaine/BE. Cocaine/BE was most frequently identified among victims 25 to 44 years of age. Males were more likely to be positive for ethanol. There were no differences among age groups or ethnic groups in regard to ethanol except for a very low ethanol incidence among Asians. Victims positive for cocaine/BE were more likely to be killed with firearms in open places. The percentage of victims positive for cocaine/BE remains approximately that found by other studies in the late 1980s, however, the percentage of opiate-positive homicides seems to be increasing. Opiates usually were found with cocaine/BE. Two-thirds of the cocaine and/or BE positive cases had cocaine present, thus they were under the influence of the drug at the time they were injured. The authors discuss how the use of cocaine, ethanol and opiates may be related to one's becoming a homicide victim.