The second European Atlas of Avoidable deaths, which will be shortly issued, concerns the period 1979-83 for Italy. The causes of deaths included were: tuberculosis, neoplasms of the cervix uteri and those of the uterus with no specified site, Hodgkin's disease, chronic rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive and cerebrovascular disease, childhood respiratory infections, asthma, appendicitis, abdominal hernia, cholecystitis and cholelithiasis, maternal and perinatal deaths. In Italy marked excesses for cholecystitis-cholelithiasis, Hodgkin's disease, hypertensive and cerebrovascular disease and perinatal mortality were observed. A remarkable decrease was observed in comparison with the first Atlas (1974-78); but the European countries generally maintained the differences amongst them and their rank. Proposals to assess the causes of the observed differences are suggested (death certificate quality evaluation studies, case-reference studies, cohort studies) and the role of confidential enquiries is discussed.