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Recent evidence suggests that heroin users in the UK are 16 times more likely to die than otherwise expected, although causes of death are varied. The present investigation examines deaths of heroin users at a large Scottish general practice over a four-year period prior to 1 July 1985. A mortality rate of 9.72 per 1000 heroin-user patients per year was observed, roughly half that previously reported, although this difference did not prove to be statistically significant. A higher proportion of the observed deaths were attributed to heroin, and fewer to the misuse of other drugs, and it is speculated that this may reflect the practice's policy of not prescribing opiates to heroin users. Factors associated with heroin-user deaths are examined and areas identified where general practitioners may help to avert some of these deaths.