This study assesses whether stroke mortality trends have been less favorable among lower than among higher socioeconomic groups. Longitudinal data on mortality by socioeconomic status were obtained for Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, England/Wales, and Turin, Italy. Data covered the entire population or a representative sample. Stroke mortality rates were calculated for the period 1981-1995. Changes in stroke mortality rate ratios were analyzed using Poisson regression and compared with rate ratios in ischemic heat disease mortality. Trends in stroke mortality were generally as favorable among lower as among higher socioeconomic groups, such that socioeconomic disparities in stroke mortality persisted and remained of a similar magnitude in the 1990s as in the 1980s. In Norway, however, occupational disparities in stroke mortality significantly widened, and a nonsignificant increase was observed in some countries. In contrast, disparities in ischemic heart disease mortality widened throughout this period in most populations. Improvements in hypertension prevalence and treatment may have contributed to similar stroke mortality declines in all socioeconomic groups in most countries. Socioeconomic disparities in stroke mortality generally persisted and may have widened in some populations, which fact underlines the need to improve preventive and secondary care for stroke among the lower socioeconomic groups.