The conventional time trade off (TTO) method relies on fundamentally different procedures to assess states better than and worse than dead. Arbitrary transformation mechanisms are then applied to worse than dead scores in order to achieve symmetry with those rated as better than dead. We use a 'life profile' approach along with a ranking procedure in order to show how states rated worse than dead may be assessed in exactly the same manner as better than dead scores. We then explore a common issue associated with states worse than dead that has received some attention recently: maximal endurable time. Our results showed that, although the severe health state was commonly rated as worse than dead, there were relatively few respondents that exhibited MET preferences. We discuss the implications of our findings for the use of the TTO method in deriving values for states that are worse than dead. Copyright (c) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.