We sought to describe pulmonary fibrosis mortality in the United States from 1979 through 1991 by analyzing death certificate reports compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics. Of the 26,866,600 people who died during the study period, 107,292 had a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis listed on their death certificates. Among men, age-adjusted mortality rates increased from 48.6 per 1,000,000 in 1979 to 50.9 per 1,000,000 in 1991 and, among women, these rates increased from 21.4 per 1,000,000 in 1979 to 27.2 per 1,000,000 in 1991. Among both men and women rates were higher in older age strata than in younger age strata. Age-adjusted mortality rates were consistently higher among whites and people of races than blacks. The frequency with which pulmonary fibrosis was listed as the underlying cause of death increased from 40% in 1979 to 56% in 1991. Age-adjusted mortality rates varied by state, with lowest rates in the Midwest and Northeast, and the highest rates in the West and Southeast. We conclude that the age-adjusted rate of pulmonary fibrosis among decedents in the United States increased, and pulmonary fibrosis was listed as the underlying cause of death with increasing frequency, over the study period. We cannot determine whether the differences we detected between regions, sexes, and races are related to characteristics of the disease or problems in death certification and coding.