The results of a survey of electrocutions associated with portable metal ladders in the United States construction industry were summarized. Death certificates maintained in the NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatality database, NIOSH Fatal Accident Circumstances and Epidemiology reports, and OSHA investigative files were searched to identify all electrocutions associated with portable metal ladders that occurred among construction workers from 1984 through 1988. Eighty nine electrocutions occurring in 82 incidents involving metal ladders were identified. This produced an annual electrocution rate of 0.36 death per 100,000 workers. The average age of the victims was 30.4 years. Eighty one deaths (91%) occurred when workers who were working near overhead power lines moved a portable metal extension ladder in such a way that it contacted the line. The remaining eight electrocutions occurred when workers touched an energized apparatus or power line while standing on a metal ladder. When categorized by standard industrial code, 36 deaths occurred among painting contractors, 19 among roofing contractors, eight among electrical contractors, and 26 among all other construction workers. Results indicated that electrocutions involving portable metal ladders are a potential hazard for construction workers. Painters and roofers who use ladders frequently and who may not be fully aware of the risks associated with power lines and electrical equipment are at greatest risk. Although most ladders are now being labeled with electric hazard warning signs, electrocutions still occur. Recommendations include using ladders made of nonconducting materials, insulating or deenergizing power lines in work areas, and using steering lines to stabilize ladders.