Aim - To describe predictors of mortality in the 5 year follow up of the Melbourne Visual Impairment Project (VIP) cohort. Methods - The Melbourne VIP was a population based study of the distribution and determinants of age related eye disease in a cluster random sample of Melbourne residents aged 40 years and older. Baseline examinations were conducted between 1992 and 1994. In 1997, 5 year follow up examinations of the original cohort commenced. Causes of death were obtained from the National Death Index for all reported deaths. Results - Of the original 3271 participants, 231 (7.1%) were reported to have died in the intervening 5 years. Of the remaining 3040 participants eligible to return for follow up examinations, 2594 (85% of eligible) did participate, 51 (2%) had moved interstate or overseas, 83 (3%) could not be traced, and 312 (10%) refused to participate. Best corrected visual acuity <6/12 (OR=2.34) was associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality, as were increasing age (OR=1.09), male sex (OR=1.62), increased duration of cigarette smoking (OR=2.06 for smoking >30 years), increased duration of hypertension (OR=1.51 for duration >10 years), and arthritis (OR=1.42). Conclusions - Even mild visual impairment increases the risk of death more than twofold. Further research is needed to determine why decreased visual acuity is associated with increased risk of mortality.