The OPCS Longitudinal Study has been used to study both overall and cause-specific mortality patterns in 1971-1981 among men and women directly or indirectly affected by unemployment in April 1971. Groups studied included men seeking work in 1971, the wives of men seeking work in 1971 and other women in the same households as a man seeking work in 1971. The findings of this project are summarized here and attention is focused on mortality from circulatory diseases, in particular ischaemic heart disease. The study provides evidence which could be seen as supporting hypotheses about relationships between stress and overall mortality, with a marked excess for suicides. The evidence with respect to ischaemic heart disease is positive but less convincing with excess mortality from this cause principally occurring among younger unemployed men and among the wives of men who were seeking work in 1971. Given the sharp contrasts in the pattern and levels of unemployment between 1971 and 1981 it is difficult to extrapolate from these findings to the present day.