Five-year survival was investigated in 506 randomly selected patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus screened for autonomic neuropathy with a series of cardiac autonomic function tests. Of the 484 diabetics traced, 44 (9 per cent) had died. The cumulative 5-year mortality rate was increased more than five-fold in those with autonomic neuropathy: 27 per cent vs. 5 per cent in those with normal autonomic function. Discriminant analysis of survivors and non-survivors showed that autonomic neuropathy was the most important independent predictor of death. Among those who died, autonomic neuropathy was associated with an increased frequency of retinopathy and peripheral neuropathy and a slightly lower frequency of macrovascular disease. Autonomic neuropathy was associated with an increased mortality rate from renal failure, but not from any other causes.