Since the 1970s, hygienic improvements have led to a reduction in the level of airborne pollutants in Danish foundries. This mortality study reflects the exposure situation prior to 1970, and the findings may be used as a baseline for future evaluations of the preventive impact of reduced exposure. Mortality data were derived from a historical cohort study in which 3,056 foundry workers were compared with 43,024 workers employed in other industries. The foundry workers' life-long risk of dying from pneumoconioses averaged 2% and the corresponding standardized mortality ratio (SMR) equaled 7,368 (95% confidence interval (95% CI): 4,029-12,363). Excess mortality was also seen for chronic bronchitis and emphysema (SMR = 132, 95% CI: 98-185). Nonsignificant increases were seen for buccal cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, and urothelial cancer. In conclusion, Danish foundry workers exposed prior to 1970 seem to suffer an excess risk of devastating lung disease of occupational origin.