To study mortality patterns in the largest existing cohort of painters. 15 years of follow up were added to a study of 42,170 painters and 14,316 non-painters based on union records. There were 23,458 deaths, compared with 5313 in the earlier follow up. Comparisons with the United States population showed significantly increased rates in painters for lung cancer (standardised mortality ratio (SMR) 1.23, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.17 to 1.29), bladder cancer (SMR 1.23, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.43), liver cancer (SMR 1.25, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.50), and stomach cancer (SMR 1.39, 95% CI 1.20 to 1.59). However, in direct comparisons with non-painters only the excesses for lung cancer (SRR 1.23, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.35, increasing to 1.32, 95% CI 16 to 1.93 with 20 years latency) and bladder cancer (SRR 1.77, 95% CI 1.13 to 2.77) were confirmed. Some confounding by smoking may affect these two outcomes, particularly with external referents. Cirrhosis of the liver was increased for both painters and non-painters (SMRs 1.21, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.35, and 1.26, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.51, respectively), possibly indicating high alcohol consumption. Suicide (SMR 1.21, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.38) and homicide (SMR 1.36, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.75) were increased for painters but not for non-painters; neuropsychiatric diseases have been associated with painters in earlier studies. The results suggest modest occupational risks for lung and bladder cancer; these results are consistent with existing publications. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified painting as an occupation definitely associated with cancer.