Pooled analyses among whites and East Asians have demonstrated positive associations between all-cause mortality and body mass index (BMI), but studies of African Americans have yielded less consistent results. We examined the association between BMI and all-cause mortality in a sample of African Americans pooled from seven prospective cohort studies: NIH-AARP, 1995-2009; Adventist Health Study 2, 2002-2008; Black Women's Health Study, 1995-2009; Cancer Prevention Study II, 1982-2008; Multiethnic Cohort Study, 1993-2007; Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Screening Trial, 1993-2009; Southern Community Cohort Study, 2002-2009. 239,526 African Americans (including 100,175 never smokers without baseline heart disease, stroke, or cancer), age 30-104 (mean 52) and 71% female, were followed up to 26.5 years (mean 11.7). Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for mortality were derived from multivariate Cox proportional hazards models. Among healthy, never smokers (11,386 deaths), HRs (CI) for BMI 25-27.4, 27.5-29.9, 30-34.9, 35-39.9, 40-49.9, and 50-60 kg/m(2) were 1.02 (0.92-1.12), 1.06 (0.95-1.18), 1.32 (1.18-1.47), 1.54 (1.29-1.83), 1.93 (1.46-2.56), and 1.93 (0.80-4.69), respectively among men and 1.06 (0.99-1.15), 1.15 (1.06-1.25), 1.24 (1.15-1.34), 1.58 (1.43-1.74), 1.80 (1.60-2.02), and 2.31 (1.74-3.07) respectively among women (reference category 22.5-24.9). HRs were highest among those with the highest educational attainment, longest follow-up, and for cardiovascular disease mortality. Obesity was associated with a higher risk of mortality in African Americans, similar to that observed in pooled analyses of whites and East Asians. This study provides compelling evidence to support public health efforts to prevent excess weight gain and obesity in African Americans.