Thirteen patients who have suffered a "near-miss" death of asthma have been compared to 36 patients with asthma who had not experienced such an episode. Contrary to expectations, there were no differences between the groups in their levels of psychiatric morbidity, their degree of life-style and social restrictions or in their levels of compliance with prescribed medication. However, both groups did show higher than expected levels of psychiatric morbidity, severe life-style and social restrictions and an unexpectedly-high compliance with prescribed medication. The main psychiatric diagnoses that were noted were anxiety disorders. It is concluded that more comprehensive asthma education and close medical follow-up are likely to improve the physical and psychological health of asthmatic patients. The high-risk patients in this study who received such follow-up have shown hospital-admission rates that have been reduced by a half while maintaining good asthma control. This South Australian longitudinal study is continuing.