Objective: To test whether handedness is associated with a change in longevity. Design: Archival survey. Setting: British Isles. Subjects—All first class cricketers born before 1961 whose bowling hand was specified (right, n=5041; left, n=1132) in a comprehensive encyclopaedia. Main outcome measures: Bowling hand and life span. Results: Regression analysis of the 5960 players born between 1840 and 1960 (3387 dead, 2573 alive) showed no significant relation between mortality and handedness (P=0.3). Left handedness was, however, associated with an increased likelihood of death from unnatural causes (P=0.03, log hazard 0.37, 95% confidence interval 0.04 to 0.70). This effect was especially related to deaths during warfare (P=0.009, log hazard 0.53, 0.13 to 0.92). Conclusion: Left handedness is not, in general, associated with an increase in mortality.