The purpose of this study was to assess characteristics of individuals who died from anorexia nervosa by assessing the frequency with which anorexia nervosa is listed as a causal factor related to the death of individuals in the USA. Data from over 10 million death records (all National Center for Health Statistic registered deaths in the USA for 1986-90) were examined for mention of anorexia nervosa as a primary or contributing cause of death. Only 724 were found, which equals an average of 145 annual deaths, and a rate of 6.73 per 100,000 deaths. The age and sex distribution suggests two fatal forms of anorexia nervosa, an early-onset form comprising 89% women and a later form comprising 24% men. The findings suggest that the mortality risk from current anorexia nervosa may be lower than formerly supposed and that it is not confined to young adults and adolescents.