The ontogeny of the cuticular hydrocarbons of three dipterans of importance to forensic entomology, Calliphora vomitoria (Linné), Calliphora vicina (Robineau-Desvoidy) and Protophormia terraenovae (Robineau-Desvoidy) (Diptera: Calliphoridae), was explored using gas chromatography analysis. The stages examined ranged from eggs to 8-day-old adults. Cuticular hydrocarbon profiles revealed that odd linear alkanes dominate in all three species. Short-chain carbon compounds in larvae and post-feeding larvae were seen to evolve to long-chain carbon compounds in pupae and adults. Discriminant analysis of cuticular hydrocarbon profiles showed a clear differentiation among the different stages (larvae, post-feeding larvae, pupae and adults) and within stages, according to the age of individuals. This study concluded that the postmortem interval can be determined from the composition of cuticular waxes in Calliphoridae in forensic situations.