The aim of this study was to investigate associations between sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and social factors in the Nordic countries. A case-control study was conducted in Denmark, Norway and Sweden: The Nordic Epidemiological SIDS Study. Parents of 244 SIDS infants and 869 control infants matched on gender, age at death and place of birth filled in questionnaires. The dataset was analysed by conditional logistic regression. In univariate analysis, the following sociodemographic factors were associated with an increased risk of SIDS: low maternal age [odds ratio (OR) 7.8; 2.8-21.5], high birth order (OR 4.4; 2.5-7.5), single motherhood (OR 2.9; 1.7-5.0), low maternal education (OR 4.5; 2.8-7.1), low paternal education (OR 3.0; 1.9-4.7), maternal unemployment (OR 2.4; 1.8-3.4) and paternal unemployment (OR 4.0; 2.7-5.9). In a multivariate analysis where maternal smoking was also included, only paternal unemployment, young maternal age and high birth order remained significantly associated with SIDS. Housing conditions were not associated with SIDS. However, the risk of SIDS was high if the family had lived in their present home for only a few years (OR 2.3; 1.3-4.1). Sociodemographic differences remain a major concern in SIDS in a low-incidence situation and even in an affluent population with adequate health services.