The National Traumatic Occupational Fatality surveillance project was designed to gather demographic, employment, and injury information from death certificates for all deaths due to injuries at work in the United States. Approximately 7000 workers have died each year during the 6-year period from 1980 through 1985: 94% were men, and 6% were women. Unintentional injuries caused the deaths of 83% of the men and 50% of the women. Eleven percent of the men and 39% of the women died from homicide. While the greatest number of deaths occurred in the group aged 20 through 34 years, fatality rates were highest among those aged 70 years and older. Expressed as deaths per 100,000 workers, annual fatality rates for black workers (7.7) were slightly higher than for white workers (6.5). The four industrial groups with the highest fatality rates were mining (31.9); transportation, communication, and public utilities (25.4); construction (24.0); and agriculture, forestry, and fishing (20.7). From 1980 through 1985 the annual traumatic occupational fatality rate fell 23%.