Previous studies show higher mortality rates among individuals with autism than the general population. Comorbidity with epilepsy is an assumed, often ill-defined factor in the increased mortality rates of individuals with autism. Data from the Autism Tissue Program, a tissue donation program established to support biomedical research on autism, show that approximately one-third of its brain donors with autism also had epilepsy. Analysis of new data from the California State Department of Developmental Services is consistent with past reports showing that there is a higher than expected rate of mortality in individuals with autism and epilepsy than autism alone. Accurate, complete and accessible records on cause of death are necessary not just for brain research, but also for understanding risk factors that contribute to early death in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Various national health care and state developmental disability agency initiatives to reduce risk of mortality are described.