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Leeches have been used in medicine for blood-letting since ancient times. Leeching has varied in popularity over the years. It reached its zenith during the early decades of the 19th century with a gradual decline by the end of the century. Since the 1980s leeches have been introduced to remove blood where its accumulation may interfere with healing, particularly after plastic tissue-flap surgery. The history and current use of medicinal leeches in Australia is examined.