The aim of this study was to ascertain the possible influence of attending various kinds of cultural events or visiting cultural institutions as a determinant of survival. A cohort of individuals aged 25-74 years from a random sample were interviewed by trained non-medical interviewers in 1982 and 1983. The interviews covered standard-of-living variables. Our independent variables covered visiting cultural institutions and attendance at cultural events, reading books or periodicals, and music making. The non-response rate was about 25%. The cohort was followed with respect to survival for 14 years up to 31st December 1996. The background covariates that were used for control purposes were age, sex, cash buffer, educational standard, long-term disease, smoking, and physical exercise. Our setting was the Swedish survey of living conditions among the adult Swedish population aged 25-74 years. About 10,609 individuals were interviewed in 1982 and 1983. The outcome measure was survival until 31st December 1996. In all, 916 men and 600 women died during this period. We found a higher mortality risk for those people who rarely visited the cinema, concerts, museums, or art exhibitions compared with those visiting them most often. The significant relative risks ranging between RR 1.14 (95% CI. 1.01-1.31) of attending art exhibitions, and RR 1.42 (CI. 1.25-1.60) of attending museums, when adjusting for the nine other variables. Visits to the cinema and concerts gave significant RR in between. We could not discern any beneficial effect of attending the theatre, church service or sports event as a spectator or any effect of reading or music making. Our conclusion is that attendance at certain kinds of cultural events may have a beneficial effect on longevity.