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The palaeontological activities of British oil interests in the Middle East from about 1920 to 1970 are described briefly, with emphasis on the nature of the published results. The predominance throughout of micro-palaeontology, due to its utility, is demonstrated. It is shown that, beginning with primary descriptive work on Middle East fossil records, emphasis shifted first to studies of distinctively Middle East palaeontology, and then to results of general application world-wide. It is concluded that the palaeontology of the Middle East is better known today than it would have been without this earlier work, that there has been a feed-back effect on the knowledge of the remainder of the Tethyan area in which the Middle East lies, and that this in turn has stimulated other extra-Tethyan studies as well as contributing to the mainstream of current earth-science research.