Little is known about past and present mortality in Vietnam, as the first official data on mortality have only recently become available from censuses taken in 1979 and 1989. Using these data, I estimate Vietnamese mortality during the intercensal period using two techniques that rely on age-specific growth rates from two successive age distributions. Intercensal emigration and differential completeness of census enumeration associated with massive outflows of refugees in the wake of the Vietnam War; population-redistribution policies, and a highly mobile population represent important sources of bias for the estimation of intercensal mortality. I incorporate several strategies to minimize bias from these sources and to select the method that is least sensitive to errors associated with them. Life expectancy at birth estimated for the 1979–1989 intercensal period is 61.4 years for males and 63.2 for females. These results suggest a trend of declining mortality between the 1970s and the 1980s and add solid empirical evidence to the debate over whether mortality in Vietnam has been deteriorating or improving.