BACKGROUND: By the dawn of the third millennium, non communicable diseases are sweeping the entire globe, with an increasing trend in developing countries where, the transition imposes more constraints to deal with the double burden of infective and non-infective diseases in a poor environment characterised by ill-health systems. By 2020, it is predicted that these diseases will be causing seven out of every 10 deaths in developing countries. Many of the non communicable diseases can be prevented by tackling associated risk factors. METHODS: Data from national registries and international organisms are collected, compared and analyzed. The focus is made on the growing burden of non communicable diseases in developing countries. RESULTS: Among non communicable diseases, special attention is devoted to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and chronic pulmonary diseases. Their burden is affecting countries worldwide but with a growing trend in developing countries. Preventive strategies must take into account the growing trend of risk factors correlated to these diseases. CONCLUSION: Non communicable diseases are more and more prevalent in developing countries where they double the burden of infective diseases. If the present trend is maintained, the health systems in low-and middle-income countries will be unable to support the burden of disease. Prominent causes for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and pulmonary diseases can be prevented but urgent (preventive) actions are needed and efficient strategies should deal seriously with risk factors like smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity and western diet.