Many studies have demonstrated the graded association between socioeconomic position and health. Few of these studies have examined the cumulative effect of socioeconomic position throughout the lifecourse, and even fewer have included women. Those that have explored gender differences affirm the importance of studying the factors that predict women and men's health separately. This study addresses the associations between cross-sectional and longitudinal socioeconomic position, risk factors for cardiovascular disease and mortality from various causes. Analyses are based on data from a cohort of working Scottish women recruited between 1970 and 1973. Five socioeconomic measures were explored in relation to diastolic blood pressure, plasma cholesterol concentration, body mass index, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1). amount of recreational exercise taken, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. In general, for each of the five measures of socioeconomic position, there were significant differences in at least one of the age-adjusted physiological risk factors for cardiovascular disease (diastolic blood pressure, plasma cholesterol concentration, body mass index, FEV1). There were also significant differences in the percentage of current cigarette smokers according to different measures of socioeconomic position, although this was not the case for the other behavioural risk factors for cardiovascular disease (amount of recreational exercise taken, and alcohol consumption). Measures of socioeconomic position were also examined in relation to cause of death for the women who died before 1 January 1999. After adjusting for age and risk factors, a composite measure of lifetime socioeconomic experience was a more potent predictor of all cause mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease than other measures of socioeconomic position. It therefore seems that conventional measurcs of socioeconomic position, estimated at one point in time, do not adequately capture the effects of socioeconomic circumstances on the risk of mortality among employed women. Thus, a broader range of explanatory factors for mortality differentials than currently exists must be considered, and must include consideration of factors operating throughout the lifecourse.