The song is an uptempo number which reflects the pop music direction Siouxsie and the Banshees were taking at the time. Still, the track contained alternative rock elements and Siouxsie Sioux's trademark cryptic lyrical content. According to Siouxsie, the song was inspired by a technique used by butterfly collectors to retain the beauty of the animals. "The Killing Jar" was remixed slightly for its radio version, most notably in the song's introduction and percussion throughout. The single version of "The Killing Jar" was featured on the Banshees' 1992 compilation Twice Upon a Time: The Singles.