The impact of mortality due to congenital anomalies in single-delivery births was compared in 1960 and 1980 birth cohorts; data were used from the 1960 National Center for Health Statistics national linkage of birth and death certificates and the 1980 National Infant Mortality Surveillance project. In 1960 there were 14,714 deaths due to congenital anomalies, compared with 8,674 in 1980, a 41 percent reduction. The infant mortality risk (IMR) due to congenital anomalies fell 31 percent. This is in contrast with the observed 54 percent decline in IMR due to all causes. This reduction in mortality due to congenital anomalies occurred for both whites and blacks in the postneonatal period and for whites only in the neonatal period. Changes ranged from a 1.8 percent increase for the black neonatal mortality risk to a 46.6 percent decrease for the white postneonatal mortality risk. In spite of these relative reductions, the absolute percentage of all infant deaths due to congenital anomalies had increased from 15.8 percent in 1960 to 24.1 percent in 1980. Two categories, cardiovascular and central nervous system anomalies, accounted for 72 percent of infant deaths due to congenital anomalies in 1960 and for 59 percent in 1980; cardiovascular anomalies accounted for 48 percent of all deaths due to congenital anomalies in 1960 and 40 percent in 1980. Infant mortality risks in the United States showed a 2:1 black to white ratio in both 1960 and 1980. However, for infant mortality due to congenital anomalies, the black and white mortality risks were approximately equal in both 1960 and 1980. For infants with birth weights of 500-2,499 g, the risk of neonatal mortality for blacks was less than half the risk for whites.