Currently, noncommunicable diseases (NCD) are responsible for almost two-thirds of all deaths globally. Of the 57 million global deaths in 2008, 36 million, or 63% were due to NCDs, principally cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases. These four groups of diseases share more or less the same risk factors (tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol). As the impact of NCDs increases and as populations age, annual NCD deaths are projected to continue to rise worldwide.Based on a series of papers commissioned by WHO, and global consultations conducted between 2008 and 2010, key research priority areas have been identified and included as part of a prioritized research agenda for noncommunicable disease. The Agenda, included in this publication, focuses on translational and health system research to expand implementation of proven cost-effective interventions and research to enable affordability of high-cost but effective technologies in the context of various resource settings.The research priorities included in this publication have been developed by an extensive network of experts from Member States, WHO Collaborative Centres, research and public health institutions and other partners involved in prioritizing, implementing and funding research projects.The main target audience for the WHO NCD Research Agenda comprises ministries of health, ministries of research, science and technology, development and donor agencies, research institutions, NCD research alliances, policy-makers, the research community, health professionals, nongovernmental organizations and civil society entities.