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A rising concern exists that with the widespread use of mobile communication technologies, the incidence of brain tumours may increase. On the basis of data from the Swiss national mortality registry from 1969 to 2002, annual age-standardized brain tumour mortality rates per 100 000 person-years were calculated using the European standard population. Time trend analyses were performed by the Poisson regression for six different age groups in men and women separately. The study period was divided into two intervals: before and after 1987, when the analogue mobile technology was introduced in Switzerland. Age-standardized brain tumour mortality rates ranged between 3.7 and 6.7 for men and 2.5 and 4.4 for women per 100 000 person-years. For the whole study period, a significant increase in brain tumour mortality was observed for men and women in the older age groups (60–74 and 75+ years) but not in the younger ones in whom mobile phone use was more prevalent. Time trend analyses restricted to data from 1987 onwards revealed relatively stable brain tumour mortality rates in all age groups. For instance, the annual change in brain tumour mortality rate for the 45–59-year age group was −0.3% (95% confidence interval: −1.7; 1.1) for men and –0.4% (95% confidence interval:−2.2; 1.3) for women. We conclude that after the introduction of mobile phone technology in Switzerland, brain tumour mortality rates remained stable in all age groups. Our results suggest that mobile phone use is not a strong risk factor in the short term for mortality from brain tumours. Ecological analyses like this, however, are limited in their ability to reveal potentially small increases in risk for diseases with a long latency period.