Introduction: According to public health reports ischaemic heart disease was an uncommon cause of death in Iceland at the beginning of the last century. This death rate increased steadily until the ninety-eighties whereafter it leveled off and started to decline. The objective of the present study is to assess in detail the changes in myocardial infarction attack, incidence and death rate as well as case fatality. Material and methods: Crude death rate from ischaemic heart disease is available from the Statistical Bureau of Iceland from 1911 to 1996 and age and sex standardized death rate from 1951. In this paper, however, the material is mainly from the MONICA Project, a multinational study of myocardial infarction under the auspices of the World Health Organization. The study, in which Iceland has participated since 1981, registers all myocardial infarctions in people aged 25-74 years in the whole country. The registration is performed according to standardized criteria and external quality control was applied throughout by WHO designated quality control centers. The registration now covers the period 1981-1998. Results: The crude death rate in ischaemic heart disease in both sexes combined increased steadily until about 1980 when it accounted for about 30% of deaths. Age and sex specific death rate from these diseases increased from 1951 to about 1970, leveled off for the next 10 years and has since decreased. The MONICA data show a decline of death rate from myocardial infarction of 57% in men aged 25-74 during 1981-1998 and a 51% decline in women. Incidence rate has declined by 40% and 34% in men and women respectively and attack rate by 49% and 44%. Incidence, death rate and case fatality in myocardial infarction in Iceland compares favorably with other European countries. Conclusions: Myocardial infarction incidence and death rates have been declining in Iceland during the last two decades. Case fatality is now among the lowest compared to other countries. Preventive measures are most likely to further reduce incidence and death rates in myocardial infarction in Iceland.