The variations in the Health of the Nation (HoN) key areas among ethnic minorities living in England and Wales are examined, based on a national mortality study by country of birth for the latest possible period (1988-1992). It addresses the 10 mortality indicators in the HoN White Paper (covering coronary heart disease [CHD] and stroke, cancers, mental illness and accidents), using age-standardised rates adjusted to the European Standard Population. The findings establish variations in the recent health experience of ethnic minorities born outside England and Wales who are now living in England and Wales. CHD among persons aged under 65 years was highest in those born in the Indian Subcontinent, 55% above the normal rate in England and Wales. Caribbeans, and African groups experienced the lowest rates. Stroke mortality under 65 years-of-age was highest in Bangladeshis, followed by other Commonwealth Africans, and then by Caribbeans. Patterns of cancer deaths also varied, with breast cancer mortality rates being lower in all ethnic groups, and lowest in those born in the Indian Subcontinent. By contrast, lung cancer deaths were higher in Irish men and women; lung cancer mortality among Bangladeshi men was significantly higher than Indians and Pakistanis, being only 15% less than that of the rates in England and Wales. Suicides were lowest in Bangladeshis and Pakistanis and highest among Indians and the Irish. Accidental deaths in children were highest in Pakistanis followed by the Irish, who also experienced higher rates among young persons. It is suggested that the HoN strategy should consider setting appropriate and achievable targets, including ones in new areas of relevance to these groups. The National Health Service purchaser/provider framework should respond to the needs of its populations, including ethnic groups.