In a prospective study with information about life style and reproductive factors, we assessed the relationship between parity and total, ischemic heart disease, and stroke mortality. The large majority of the 19,688 California Seventh-day Adventist women included did not smoke or drink alcohol, 31 percent never ate meat and physical activity was relatively high. Cox proportional hazard analysis was conducted with parity as the main independent variable and with adjustment for a number of other possible confounders. During follow-up from 1976 through 1988, there were 3,122 deaths; 782 deaths from ischemic heart disease and 367 deaths due to stroke. There were no relationships between parity and total mortality (P-value for overall effect of parity = 0.32). Grand multiparous women (>4 children) had somewhat increased ischemic heart disease mortality (MRR = 1.45, 95% CI: 1.15, 1.84) before adjustment for educational level. After adjustment for educational level and marital status, there were no relationship with mortality from ischemic heart disease (P = 0.29) or stroke (P = 0.72). In parous women, there were, after adjustment for age at first delivery, some suggestions of an increased total mortality in women with one child. For ischemic heart disease and stroke mortality, no associations were found. Stratified and adjusted analyses confirmed these results. Thus, we found no consistent relationships between parity and total, ischemic heart disease or stroke mortality. However, a longer follow-up would have been helpful and the conclusions may be somewhat influenced by the lifestyle of the women included.