In order to compare evolved human and chimpanzees' life histories we present a synthetic life table for free-living chimpanzees, derived from data collected in five study populations (Gombe, Taï, Kibale, Mahale, Bossou). The combined data from all populations represent 3711 chimpanzee years at risk and 278 deaths. Males show higher mortality than females and data suggest some inter-site variation in mortality. Despite this variation, however, wild chimpanzees generally have a life expectancy at birth of less than 15 years and mean adult lifespan (after sexual maturity) is only about 15 years. This is considerably lower survival than that reported for chimpanzees in zoos or captive breeding colonies, or that measured among modern human hunter-gatherers. The low mortality rate of human foragers relative to chimpanzees in the early adult years may partially explain why humans have evolved to senesce later than chimpanzees, and have a longer juvenile period.