In recent pooled analyses among whites and Asians, mortality was shown to rise markedly with increasing body mass index (BMI; weight (kg)/height (m)(2)), but much less is known about this association among blacks. This study prospectively examined all-cause mortality in relation to BMI among 22,014 black males, 9,343 white males, 30,810 black females, and 14,447 white females, aged 40-79 years, from the Southern Community Cohort Study, an epidemiologic cohort of largely low-income participants in 12 southeastern US states. Participants enrolled in the cohort from 2002 to 2009 and were followed up to 8.9 years. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals for mortality were obtained from sex- and race-stratified Cox proportional hazards models in association with BMI at cohort entry, adjusting for age, education, income, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption. Elevated BMI was associated with increased mortality among whites (hazard ratios for BMI >40 vs. 20-24.9 = 1.37 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.02, 1.84) and 1.47 (95% CI: 1.15, 1.89) for white males and white females, respectively) but not significantly among blacks (hazard ratios = 1.13 (95% CI: 0.89, 1.43) and 0.87 (95% CI: 0.72, 1.04) for black males and black females, respectively). In this large cohort, obesity in mid-to-late adulthood among blacks was not associated with the same excess mortality risk seen among whites.