Childhood fatalities from injuries are a serious public health problem in New Mexico, a state which ranks second in the nation in injury-related mortality rates. To determine the extent of injury mortality in children in this state, and to examine time trends and differences in mortality rates in New Mexico's American Indian, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic white children aged 0-14 years, we analyzed vital records collected from 1958 to 1982. American Indian children experienced the highest mortality rates from all external causes combined. Among all three major ethnic groups, children aged 0-4 years were at the highest risk for injury fatalities. Unintentional injuries accounted for 85% of all injury-related deaths. Motor vehicle crashes and drowning were the first and second leading causes of death in all three groups, while other important causes of death included fire, choking on food or other objects, poisoning, and homicide. Although the fatality rates on most types of injuries decreased over the 25-year period, childhood fatality rates for motor vehicle crashes and homicide increased in each ethnic group. Despite the overall decrease in injury mortality rates in New Mexican children, the rates are excessively high compared to other states, especially in American Indian children.