Death certificate data were used to examine asthma mortality among African Americans and Whites aged 5 through 34 years in Chicago from 1968 through 1991. African Americans experienced consistently higher asthma mortality throughout the period. Asthma mortality remained stable among Whites from 1968 through 1991 but increased by 337% among African Americans from 1976 through 1991 (P < .001). The increase was greatest among 20- through 34-year-olds. Between 1979 and 1991, outpatient and emergency department deaths increased significantly, while the proportion of dead-on-arrival cases remained stable at 51%. This shift to non-inpatient deaths suggests that lack of access to health care may play a role in increasing asthma mortality.