Increased mortality in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is widely recognized but not fully explained. Despite substantial improvements in management and growing knowledge of the determinants of increased mortality, evidence for reduction in mortality in RA has lagged behind. Indeed, most studies report no apparent reduction in mortality in RA. However, emerging evidence from some recent RA inception cohorts suggests no increased mortality, including cardiovascular mortality, but this awaits further confirmation. Although it is possible that recent advances in RA treatment may manifest in improvement of survival in the near future, other factors, including undertreated or unrecognized low-grade inflammation, comorbidities, and immunogenetic factors, may contribute to the excess mortality in RA and impede its improvement. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of the rates and determinants of mortality in RA, identify and discuss potential explanations for excess mortality, and outline promising research avenues for targeting mortality in RA.