Mortality from four causes (index stroke, subsequent stroke, cardiac disease and non-cardiovascular causes) was examined during a 5 year follow-up of 1694 cerebral infarction patients admitted to 25 community hospitals between 1969 and 1973. The hazard for mortality from the index stroke was high initially, but declined to a negligible level by 6 months post-stroke. In contrast, hazards for mortality from subsequent strokes, cardiac diseases and non-cardiovascular causes each peaked midway through the first year, declined during the remainder of that year, and then increased in the latter part of the follow-up. Proportional hazards analysis indicated that advanced age and increased stroke severity were the only factors significantly related to increased risk from each of the four causes of death. Other risk factors were significant only for one or two select causes of death. White patients were less likely to die from subsequent strokes, but more likely to die from cardiac diseases, than were non-white patients (primarily blacks). Males were more likely to die from both the index stroke and non-cardiovascular causes than females. A history of cardiac disease increased the risk of death from both the index stroke and from future cardiac events, while a history of hypertension or diabetes increased the risk of death from non-cardiovascular causes, and a history of previous stroke increased the risk of death from subsequent stroke.