Abstract Mortality among Danish dairy cows was examined using data from the Danish Cattle Database (DCD) and a questionnaire survey. Mortality risk has increased from approximately 2% in 1990 to approximately 3.5% in 1999. The increased mortality was seen for all dairy breeds and all age groups. Mortality among older dairy cows (parity 3 and older) was approximately twice the mortality among younger cows. 30–40% of deaths were during the first 30 days of the lactation. Approximately, 58% of dead dairy cows had been euthanised. Replies from the questionnaire indicate that the proportion of euthanised cows has increased in the past 5 years. In 86% of all deaths (questionnaire survey) a primary reason could be identified; 25% were for locomotor disorders.