A total of 388 patients, of mean age 73 years, with acute cerebrovascular disease (CVD) evaluated in a non-intensive Stroke Unit, and a sample of 209 age- and sex-matched similarly acutely admitted patients with surgical diseases were followed up for 5-8 years. The CVD patients had a 21-day hospital mortality of 13%, and 66% mortality during the entire study period, compared to 2% and 48%, respectively, in controls. Old age had only a minor effect on the initial mortality. However, long-term mortality increased markedly with age. The initial mortality in 120 stroke recurrences was 50%. In CVD patients heart diseases were common causes of death, and circulatory diseases were most predominant of all (86%), with an accumulation during the first months after the occurrence of the initial CVD event. These figures clearly show that stroke patients constitute a group with high risk of stroke recurrence and death. Despite declining figures for stroke mortality, and most probably also for case fatality rate after first stroke episodes, much work remains to be done within the field of secondary prevention after stroke.