There is a well-known excess mortality subsequent to hip fracture, which is probably restricted to subgroups of hip fracture patients with reduced health status. We studied the association between risk factors and death in 248 hip fracture patients and 248 controls originally enrolled in a population-based case-control study. This cohort was followed for 3 1/2 years with respect to total mortality. A markedly increased mortality was found in hip fracture patients passing a mental status test at a low score [relative risk (RR) = 2.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4-3.7], in hip fracture patients reporting two or more selected chronic diseases (RR = 3.3, 95% CI 1.8-6.1), in hip fracture patients not walking outdoors before the fracture (RR = 3.2, 95% CI 2.0-5.1) and in hip fracture patients in the lower half of handgrip strength distribution (RR = 2.3, 95% CI 1.6-3.4), all compared with the control group. In contrast, hip fracture patients without these risk factors did not have increased mortality compared with the control group. This study suggests that otherwise healthy and fit patients do not have increased mortality subsequent to hip fracture. The excess mortality is restricted to persons with reduced mental status, reduced somatic health and low physical ability. Special attention should be paid to patients with such risk factors in the treatment and rehabilitation period.