Genetic and environmental influence on risk of premature death in adulthood was investigated by estimating the associations in total and cause-specific mortality of adult Danish adoptees and their biological and adoptive parents. Among all 14,425 non-familial adoptions formally granted in Denmark during the period 1924 through 1947, we selected the study population according to a case-cohort sampling design. As the case-control design, the case-cohort design has the advantage of economic data collection and little loss in statistical efficiency, but the case-cohort sample has the additional advantages that rate ratio estimates may be obtained, and re-use of the cohort sample in future studies of other outcomes is possible. Analyses were performed using Kalbfleisch and Lawless's estimator for hazard ratio, and robust estimation for variances. In the main analyses the sample was restricted to birth years of the adoptees 1924 and after, and age of transfer to the adoptive parents before 7 years, and age at death was restricted to 16 to 70 years. The results showed a higher mortality among adoptees, whose biological parents died in the age range of 16 to 70 years; this was significant for deaths from natural causes, vascular causes and all causes. No influence was seen from early death of adoptive parents, regardless of cause of death.