In analyzing standardized mortality ratios (SMRs), it is of interest to calculate a confidence interval for the true SMR. The exact limits of a specific interval can be obtained by means of the Poisson distribution either within an iterative procedure or by one of the tables. The limits can be approximated in using one of various shortcut methods. In this paper, a method is described for calculating the exact limits in a simple and easy way. The method is based on the link between the chi 2 distribution and the Poisson distribution. Only a table of the chi 2 distribution is necessary.