The precision and reliability of quantitative nucleic acid analysis depends on the quality of the sample analyzed and the integrity of the nucleic acids. The integrity of RNA is currently primarily assessed by the analysis of ribosomal RNA, which is the by far dominant species. The extrapolation of these results to mRNAs and microRNAs, which are structurally quite different, is questionable. Here we show that ribosomal and some nucleolar and mitochondrial RNAs, are highly resistant to naturally occurring post-mortemdegradation, while mRNAs, although showing substantial internal variability, are generally much more prone to nucleolytic degradation. In contrast, all types of RNA show the same sensitivity to heat. Using qPCR assays targeting different regions of mRNA molecules, we find no support for 5′ or 3′ preferentiality uponpost-mortemdegradation.