The authors investigated whether red blood cell distribution width (RDW) was associated with the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and mortality in a community cohort in Taiwan. The influence of anemia on the association was also assessed. RDW levels were measured in 3,226 participants aged 35 years or older who reported no CVD or cancer at baseline in 1990. During a median follow-up period of 15.9 years (1990-2007), 358 participants experienced stroke and/or coronary heart disease, and 810 participants died. The multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio for subjects in the highest RDW quartile as compared with the lowest quartile was 1.46 for both all-cause mortality (95% confidence interval: 1.17, 1.81) and non-CVD mortality (95% confidence interval: 1.13, 1.88) (P for trend < 0.01 for both) but was not significant for CVD morbidity and mortality. Further analyses showed that in comparison with participants with low RDW and no anemia, persons with high RDW but no anemia had elevated risks of all-cause mortality and non-CVD mortality. The authors conclude that elevated RDW values are associated with increased risk of mortality but not the development of CVD in the general population. RDW may precede anemia in predicting the risk of non-CVD death.