Since 1940, 760 cases of silicosis have been diagnosed as part of the State of North Carolina's (NC) pneumoconiosis surveillance program for dusty trades workers. Vital status was ascertained through 1983 for 714 cases that had been diagnosed since 1940 and death certificates were obtained for 546 of the 550 deceased. Mortality from tuberculosis, cancer of the intestine and lung, pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, pneumoconiosis, and kidney disease was significantly increased in whites. Mortality from tuberculosis, ischemic heart disease, and pneumoconiosis was significantly increased in non-whites. The standardized mortality ratio (95% CI) for lung cancer based on U.S. rates was 2.6 (1.8-3.6) in whites, 2.3 (1.5-3.4) in those who had no exposure to other known occupational carcinogens, and 2.4 (1.5-3.6) in those who had no other exposure and who had been diagnosed for silicosis while employed in the NC dusty trades. Age-adjusted lung cancer rates in silicotics who had no exposure to other known occupational carcinogens were 1.5 (.8-2.9) times higher than that in a referent group of coal miners with coalworkers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) and 2.4 (1.5-3.9) times higher than that in a referent group of non-silicotic metal miners. Age- and smoking-adjusted rates in silicotics were 3.9 (2.4-6.4) times higher than that in metal miners. This analysis effectively controls for confounding by age, cigarette smoking, and exposure to other known occupational carcinogens, and it is unlikely that other correlates of silica exposure could explain the excess lung cancer mortality in the silicotics.