To determine whether asthma mortality is influenced by geographical or social factors, a retrospective analysis of deaths from asthma in England and Wales between 1979-1987 was performed. Death rates in the 15 Regional Health Authority areas of England and Wales were stratified by sex, age group (0-4, 5-34, 35-64, and > 64 years), and occupational social class. Detailed analysis was restricted to subjects aged 5-64 years because adequate social class data was only available over this age range. Death rates were higher in manual occupational groups (social class IIIb-V) than in non-manual occupations (social class I-IIIa), but on further analysis this effect was confined to males aged 35-64 years. In younger subjects (5-34 years), mortality was higher in the south of the country, and this difference was significant in males (P < 0.05). In older subjects (35-64 years), mortality in both sexes was significantly higher in the north of the country. This study demonstrates that mortality is not evenly distributed between social classes or regions of the country.