We evaluated mortality and health services utilization in a prospective study of 630 older residents of a Southern California community. All participants were 65 years or older when initially evaluated in 1973-1975. In addition to being followed for vital status each year, participants were reinterviewed in 1984-1986 and asked about nursing home, hospital, and community-based care for the interim period. Current cigarette use in 1973-1975 was a significant predictor of mortality for both men and women. In addition, former smoking status (before 1973-1975) significantly predicted both mortality and hospital inpatient utilization in men and women combined. However, smoking was not significantly associated with nursing home utilization or use of three categories of community-based care services. More research is necessary to identify the relationship between cigarette smoking and outpatient service use. The findings for mortality and inpatient hospital service utilization reaffirm the hazards of cigarette smoking.