Mortality from ischemic heart disease (ICD 410-414) is changing. Remarkable decreases have been observed in the age groups from 35-64 years, while overall mortality (all age groups) has remained approximately stable. In Switzerland this has meant a gain of some 4700 life years in the period 1988 to 1993 in the working population (35-64 years). The object of this study was to assess the associated change in indirect costs (productivity losses) due to premature death, using the human capital approach. The indirect costs were CHF 519 million (CHF 7.5 million per 100,000 population) in 1993. This represents approximately half of all indirect costs (and 25% of the total costs generated by the disease). Compared with the year 1988, a decrease in productivity losses due to premature death was observed amounting to CHF 46 million (-11%) in constant Swiss francs. Society benefits from this decrease in indirect costs, a desirable development hardly ever mentioned.