To determine the long-term outcome of patients with polyarteritis nodosa (PAN), microscopic polyangiitis (MPA), and Churg-Strauss syndrome (CSS), to compare the long-term outcome with the overall French population, to evaluate the impact on outcome of the type of vasculitis, prognostic factors, and treatments administered at diagnosis, and to analyze treatment side effects and sequelae. Data from PAN, MPA, and CSS patients (n = 278) who were enrolled between 1980 and 1993 were collected in 1996 and 1997 and analyzed. Two prognostic scoring systems, the Five-Factors Score (FFS) and the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score (BVAS), were used to evaluate all patients at the time of diagnosis. The mean (+/- SD) followup of the entire population was 88.3 +/- 51.9 months (range 3 days to 192 months). Of the 85 deaths recorded, at least 41 were due to progressive vasculitis or its consequences. Death rates reflected disease severity, as assessed by the FFS (P = 0.004) and the BVAS (P or =2 (P = 0.041). Relapse rates were similar regardless of the treatment regimen; only patients treated with CS alone had uncontrolled disease. CYC was associated with a greater frequency of side effects (P < 0.00001). Rates of mortality due to PAN (related or unrelated to HBV), MPA, and CSS reflected disease severity and were higher than the mortality rate in the general population (P < 0.0004). Rates of relapse, more common in MPA than HBV-related PAN patients, did not reflect disease severity. Survival rates were better among the more severely ill patients who had received first-line CYC. Based on these findings, we recommend that the intensity of the initial treatment be consistent with the severity of the disease. The use of the FFS and BVAS scores improved the ability to evaluate the therapeutic response.