Avoidable mortality in Sweden 1974-1985 was analysed using a European Community (EC) Working Group list of 'avoidable death indicators." The list includes causes of death that in certain age groups were defined as indicators of the outcome of medical care intervention or for some conditions, indicators of the national health policies. About 10 out of 14 medical health care indicators occurred in less than 50 cases per year. Death rates decreased over the 12-year period studied for most avoidable death indicators. For women, however, the death rate for malignant neoplasms of the trachea, bronchus and lung increased significantly. Swedish total mortality for ages 5-64 years was lower than the EC standards 1974-1978 and 1980-1984. Most of the avoidable causes of death had a relatively low standard mortality rate (SMR) when compared to both the EC standard and to the Swedish SMR for total mortality. For asthma, however, the Swedish SMR was higher. The development and implementation of the avoidable death concept and methodology is discussed.