Drowning is the third leading cause of death from unintentional injuries in Louisiana. In 1998, the fatality rate from drowning for Louisiana residents was 3.1 per 100,000 population, higher than the U.S. rate of 1.9 per 100,000, and more than twice the 2000 national target of 1.3 per 100,000 population. This report describes the demographics and risk factors associated with drownings in Louisiana in 1998. Findings indicate that alcohol or illicit drug use was found in approximately 60% of tested victims aged > or = 13 years and that none of the victims of boating-related drowning were correctly wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). Prevention efforts should focus on decreasing alcohol and illicit drug use and increasing the proper use of PFDs among boaters and others involved in water recreation.