Recent reports have suggested a link between low serum total cholesterol and risk of death from suicide. We examined this association using participants in the 1970-1972 Nutrition Canada Survey. We determined the mortality experience of Nutrition Canada Survey participants older than 11 years of age at baseline through 1993 by way of record linkage to the Canadian National Mortality Database. The relation between low serum total cholesterol and mortality from suicide was assessed using a stratified analysis (N = 11,554). There were 27 deaths due to suicide. Adjusting for age and sex, we found that those in the lowest quartile of serum total cholesterol concentration (<4.27 mmol/liter) had more than six times the risk of committing suicide (rate ratio = 6.39; 95% confidence interval = 1.27-32.1) as did subjects in the highest quartile (>5.77 mmol/liter). Increased rate ratios of 2.95 and 1.94 were observed for the second and third quartiles, respectively. The effect persisted after the exclusion from the analysis of the first 5 years of follow-up and after the removal of those who were unemployed or who had been treated for depression. These data indicate that low serum total cholesterol level is associated with an increased risk of suicide.