PAQUID is an epidemiological cohort which aims to study cerebral and functional factors of ageing. We have examined the relationship between dyspnea level at entrance into this cohort and mortality occurring during the subsequent 8 years. Dyspnea was evaluated by a questionnaire derived from a Fletcher's five-degree scale. Mortality was recorded during follow-up according to its date and cause. Of 2762 subjects (98.9%) initially giving their dyspnea level, 935 (33.5%) had died 8 years later including 444 (40%) men and 491 (29.4%) women. Mortality was closely related to dyspnea level (p < 0.0001) both in men and women, especially for grade 3 and over, even after adjusting on age, sex, smoking history and former occupation. These results show that dyspnea grade 3 or higher is an important predictive symptom of mortality, thus suggesting that this is a threshold defining the dyspneic subject.