Mortality from cirrhosis of the liver has been examined in few long-term follow-up studies. In the Danish National Registry of Patients, 1982-1989, we identified a cohort of 10,154 patients with liver cirrhosis and divided them according to the etiology of their liver disease. Causes of death were identified in the Danish Death Registry, 1982-1993. We estimated relative survival and standardized mortality ratios by comparing with the mortality in the general population. The 10-year relative survival was worse in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis (34%) or nonspecified cirrhosis (32%) than in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (58%) or chronic hepatitis (66%). The standardized mortality ratio for all causes of death combined was 12-fold increased, 5-fold excluding cirrhosis-related causes. Mortality in all disease categories was increased, even in those not traditionally related to cirrhosis. In conclusion, patients with cirrhosis of the liver face reduced life expectancy due to several causes of death.