Along with our submission to the National Death Index (NDI) of a cohort of more than 23,000 petrochemical and refinery workers, we included 1,449 known U.S. deaths to determine the completeness of death ascertainment through the NDI. A number of factors that may affect follow-up were examined including sex, race, age and reporting area. Overall, NDI detected 97.1% of known deaths. Follow-up was slightly better for males (97.2%) than for females (92.0%) and was significantly better for whites (97.6%) than for nonwhites (92.0%). Analyses by reporting area showed very complete follow-up from all locations (93.4%-100%) except for the New York City area (71.4%). These findings indicate that NDI is an extremely useful source for vital status follow-up, though follow-up may be somewhat less complete for certain subgroups of an occupational study cohort.