The aim of this study was to investigate variations in infant mortality from 1983 to 2001 by birthweight, registration status, father's social class, age of mother at birth and cause of death, among babies of mothers born in countries that represent the largest ethnic minority groups in England and Wales. A total of 70,208 infant death registration records linked to their corresponding birth registration records were used. The study focused on infant deaths of babies of mothers born in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Caribbean, West Africa, East Africa, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. From 1983 to 2001 infant mortality rates decreased overall, and this was also apparent in the rates by mother's country of birth. Overall, babies of mothers born in Pakistan consistently had the highest infant mortality rates. Low-birthweight babies of mothers born in West Africa had the highest infant, neonatal and postneonatal death rates. Differences were also seen by registration status, mother's age and between manual and non-manual occupations for all countries from 1983 to 2001. For babies of mothers born in the UK, Caribbean and West Africa, immaturity-related conditions were the most common cause of infant deaths. The leading cause of infant death among babies of mothers born in Pakistan and Bangladesh was congenital anomalies.