Periodically the results of class comparisons in mortality rates have been reported. These reports have permitted comparisons since the earlier part of this century to the present period. The data thus available enables us to make some tentative predictions about the likely magnitude of class inequalities in mortality in the future. We consequently argue that: • -the concept of class should be abandoned in favour of a more direct measure of economic inequality which emphasises those living in poverty. • -despite overall declines in mortality for all socioeconomic groups, in the most recent period there has been an increase in the relative mortality disadvantage in some countries. • -this increase in mortality disadvantage is paralleled by an increase in the proportion of people, particularly children, living in poverty. Five groups constitute the bulk of those living in poverty and, of these, three (single mothers, the aged and the disabled) are likely to increase in numbers in the future, producing a likely increase in class-related mortality inequalities. Reducing these inequalities will depend upon welfare and education initiatives more than on any changes likely to be produced by the health system.