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Previous reports on perioperative mortality associated with hip arthroplasty have not documented, to our knowledge, patient characteristics and surgical factors that increase the likelihood of death. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of and associated risk factors for perioperative death after elective hip arthroplasty.The records of 30,714 consecutive patients who had undergone elective hip arthroplasty at our institution from 1969 to 1997 were retrospectively reviewed to identify patients who had died within thirty days after the procedure. Mortality rates were determined according to age, gender, diagnosis, implant type, and fixation mode.Ninety deaths occurred within thirty days after elective total hip arthroplasty, for an overall mortality rate of 0.29% (ninety of 30,714). The thirty-day mortality rate was significantly higher for patients with preexisting cardiovascular disease (p < 0.0001), male patients (p < 0.0001), and patients who were seventy years of age or older (p < 0.0002). The mortality rate was slightly, but not significantly, higher for patients with an underlying diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (p < 0.36) and those receiving cemented implants (p < 0.57). There was no difference in the thirty-day mortality rate for revision as compared with primary hip arthroplasty (p < 0.92).Factors that are associated with an increased risk of mortality within thirty days after elective hip arthroplasty include an older age, male gender, and a history of cardiorespiratory disease. There has been a significant decline in the thirty-day mortality rate after elective hip arthroplasty in the last decade (p < 0.0002); during the 1990s, the overall rate at our institution was 0.15% (twenty-three of 14,989).