One multiple sclerosis (MS) is diagnosed, important considerations often include life expectancy and the availability of life insurance. We designed a study specifically to examine life expectancy among MS clinic patients and analyzed the data using standard actuarial methods, both including and excluding suicides. The data show that severe MS disability, as measured by an Expanded Disability Status Score (EDSS) of greater than or equal to 7.5, is a major risk factor for death with case fatality ratios for this group of patients approaching 4 times the rate for controls. Conversely, excluding deaths by suicide, case fatality ratios for those with mild and moderate disability (EDSS less than or equal to 7.0) approach 1.4 times and 1.6 times for age- and sex-matched comparison groups. Life tables indicate that the overall life expectancy for MS is only about 6 to 7 years less than that for the "insured" population without MS.