We assessed mortality rates in a cohort of French potash miners between 1977 and 1987. The cohort comprised all workers of a potash mine active on January 1, 1977, or subsequently hired, with at least 3 years of employment. We compared the mortality of the subcohort exposed to heat from underground work (U) with the mortality of those who had never worked underground (D). The overall mortality was low [standardized mortality ratio (SMR) = 0.89, based on 570 deaths] and was lower among underground workers (age-standardized mortality rate = 660 per 100,000 person-years, 266 deaths) than among daylight workers (age-standardized mortality rate = 710 per 100,000 person-years, 304 deaths). Mortality from ischemic heart diseases (IHD) was higher for underground workers than for daylight workers (relative risk = 1.6). As exposure to heat decreased over time, we analyzed the mortality according to period of hire: within underground workers, we observed a downward trend for mortality from IHD which contrasted with a stable mortality from IHD among daylight workers. Among subjects who left for medical reasons, IHD mortality was five times greater in the heat-exposed group compared with daylight workers. The data are consistent with an increased risk of ischemic heart diseases from a hot environment that is offset by a strong healthy worker effect.