Although in demand, there is only limited information available regarding the patterns of mortality among Natives in Canada. Mortality rates for residents of Canadian Indian Reserves (IRs) and Registered Indians were calculated for the periods 1979-1988 and 1981 respectively. Proportionate mortality ratios and age-standardized mortality rates for residents of Indian Reserves were similar to those obtained for Registered Indians. Standardized mortality ratios were calculated using both Canadian mortality and mortality in selected isolated rural populations as references. Dramatically increased risks were observed among Native populations for mortality from alcoholism/liver cirrhosis, homicide, suicide and pneumonia. While SMRs calculated using mortality rates in rural populations appeared to be preferable to those using Canadian rates, the use of Canadian rates does not alter the conclusion that IRs have significantly elevated mortality from environmental and social causes which, although improving, require continuing control efforts.