This study presents an analysis of the mortality patterns of people who become world leaders. Using information in the public domain, we identified 261 world leaders who died between 1965 and 1996. Of these, 118 died while in office, 44% violently, often by assassination. Of the 143 leaders who died after leaving office, 11% died violently. The violent deaths occurred worldwide but most frequently in the Middle East/South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa regions. The most frequent natural causes of death among world leaders were heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Mortality patterns reveal that the longevity of those leaders who died of natural causes could have been predicted by U.S. life tables. This study suggests that world leaders are neither biologically "tougher" nor more vulnerable to disease than others; however, their odds of dying violently while in office are high.