We examined the utility of health status scores as predictors of mortality in a 5-year study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Of 279 patients with a known outcome after an average of 5 years of followup, 37 had died. Scores derived from the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales indicated that mobility and general health perception were significant predictors of mortality with odds ratios (95% confidence interval) of: 1.19 (1.05, 1.33) and 1.27 (1.04, 1.55), respectively. These measures were particularly predictive of dying at worse levels of health status with a significant linear trend for mobility (p less than 0.05) and general health perception (p less than 0.01). Even after controlling for physical function, poorer levels of general health perception were significantly associated with mortality, (p less than 0.01 for linear trend). Our results confirm that certain health status measures are related to subsequent mortality in patients with RA.