Our objective was to document the effect of fire-history sampling on the mortality of mature ponderosa pine trees in Oregon. We examined 138 trees from which fire-scarred partial cross sections had been removed five to six years earlier, and 386 similarly sized, unsampled neighbor trees, from 78 plots distributed over about 5,000 ha. Mortality was low for both groups. Although mortality was significantly higher for the sectioned trees than their neighbors (8% versus I%), removing a partial section did not appear to increase a tree's susceptibility to death from factors such as wind or insect activity. Specifically, the few sectioned stems that broke did so well above sampling height. Most sectioned trees (79%) had evidence of insect activity in 1994/95, while only an additional 5% had such evidence in 2000. Mortality among sectioned trees in this study was low probably because we removed relatively small sections, averaging 7 cm thick and 8% of the tree's cross-sectional area, from large trees of a species with effective, resin-based defenses against insects and pathogens. Sampling live ponderosa pine trees appears to be a non-lethal method of obtaining information on past fire regimes in this region because it only infrequently led to their death in the early years after sampling.