Objective: To contrast the Australian tobacco industry's awareness of the diseases caused by smoking with their aggressive public denial on the relation between smoking and disease in the 1980s. Design: Analysis of 325 industry documents from the world wide web. Results: In the 1980s Australian cigarette manufacturers were informed constantly by the international industry of the medical consensus that smoking caused disease. In addition Philip Morris (Australia) Limited received reports of Philip Morris' international biological research programme and visited its Richmond research facility; and WD&HO Wills part funded, co-managed, and contributed research to the British American Tobacco groups' biological research programme. Despite this knowledge, the Australian manufacturers had a policy of arguing to their employees, decision makers, and the general public that questions of smoking and disease were unresolved. The industry catalogued the literature, developed arguments against the main claims made by health groups, and attacked public health advocates who made statements linking smoking to death and disease. Industry studies suggested that a 20-30% minority of the Australian public agreed with the industry on smoking and disease, diminishing across the decade. Conclusion: Australian manufacturers were clearly negligent in the 1980s, deliberately working to undermine Australians' understandings of the diseases caused by smoking despite their own private knowledge. Continuing scepticism about smoking and disease, corresponding with the industry's deceptions, exists in Australian smokers today, suggesting that their actions may have slowed the rate of decline in smoking prevalence. These revelations provide important evidence for Australian litigation and advocacy.