The predictive power, for total, vascular, cancer and respiratory mortality, of selected redox-modulatory (vitamin and mineral nutrient) indices measured at baseline, was studied in the British National Diet and Nutrition Survey (community-living subset) of people aged 65 years and over. Mortality status and its primary and underlying causes were recorded for 1054 (mean age 76·6 (sd 7·4) years and 49·0 % female) participants, from the baseline survey in 1994–5 until September 2008. During this interval, 74 % of the male and 62 % of the female participants died. Total mortality was significantly predicted by baseline plasma concentrations (per sd) of vitamin C (hazard ratio (HR) 0·81; 95 % CI 0·74, 0·88), α-carotene (HR 0·90; 95 % CI 0·81, 0·99), Se (HR 0·76; 95 % CI 0·69, 0·84), Zn (HR 0·79; 95 % CI 0·72, 0·87), Cu (HR 1·27; 95 % CI 1·14, 1·42) and Fe (HR 0·81; 95 % CI 0·74, 0·89). Total mortality was also significantly predicted by baseline dietary intakes (per sd) of food energy (HR 0·86; 95 % CI 0·79, 0·94), vitamin C (HR 0·88; 95 % CI 0·80, 0·94), carotenoids (HR 0·89; 95 % CI 0·83, 0·96), Zn (HR 0·89; 95 % CI 0·82, 0·96) and Cu (HR 0·91; 95 % CI 0·84, 1·00). Prediction patterns and significance for primary vascular, cancer and respiratory mortality differed in certain respects, but not fundamentally. Model adjustment for known disease or mortality risk predictors resulted in loss of significance for some of the indices; however, plasma Se and Zn, and food energy remained significant predictors. We conclude that total and primary vascular, cancer and respiratory mortality in older British people of both sexes is predicted by several biochemical indices of redox-modulatory nutrients, some of which may reflect the respondents' acute-phase status at baseline, whereas others may reflect the healthiness of their lifestyle.