Objectives: This study used life table methods to evaluate the potential effects of reduction in major disease mortality on life expectancy in New South Wales (NSW), and the differences in cause-specific mortality between country of birth groups. The total and partial elimination of major causes of death were examined to identify the high-risk groups for community-level health planning. Study design: Life tables were used to combine the mortality rates of the NSW population at different ages into a single statistical model. Methods: Using abridged, multiple decrement and cause-elimination life tables with the mortality data for NSW in 2000-2002, broader disease groups were examined. Multiple decrement tables were generated by country of birth. The effect of the partial elimination of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was also studied. Results: This study found that Pacific-born men and women who reach their 30th birthday and eventually die from IHD are expected to live, on average, 10.8 and 5.8 years less, respectively, than average men and women in NSW. If IHD is eliminated as a cause of death, 7.5 years for males and 6.7 years for females would be added to life expectancy at birth. Conclusions: Life expectancy at birth is likely to be further increased by reducing deaths caused by diseases of the cardiovascular system, particularly among people aged over 65 years, by reducing malignant neoplasm deaths among those aged below 65 years, and by reducing deaths due to accidents, injury and poisoning, mainly among men aged 15-29 years. Further gains in life expectancy could be achieved with community-level educational programmes on lifestyle management and disease prevention.