The NHANES I Epidemiologic Followup Study (NHEFS) was initiated jointly by the National Center for Health Statistics and the National Institute on Aging in collaboration with other National Institutes of Health and Public Health Service agencies. The goal of NHEFS is to examine the relationship of baseline clinical, nutritional, and behavioral factors assessed in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I-1971-75) to subsequent morbidity and mortality. Tracing for the initial followup began in 1981 and ended in 1984. This article compares the mortality experience of the NHEFS cohort with survival probabilities and cause-of-death distributions derived from U.S. vital statistics data. The analysis was done for 28 age-race-sex specific subgroups. The survival of each group of the NHEFS cohort corresponds quite closely to that expected on the basis of the U.S. life table survival probabilities. Mortality differentials by age, race, and sex are also quite similar between NHEFS and U.S. vital statistics. In addition, the cause-of-death distributions among NHEFS participants are quite similar to those expected based on national vital statistics. Thus, there do not seem to be any serious biases in the mortality data. The NHEFS, therefore, provides a unique resource for assessing the effects of baseline sociodemographic, health, and nutritional factors on future mortality in a large, heterogeneous sample that is representative of the nation's population.