background: cardiovascular diseases (cvd) are the leading causes of death in our population. there was a progressive decrease in mortality due to cvd up to 2005. objective: to update the trends in mortality from cardiovascular diseases in brazil and in the metropolitan region of s？o paulo (mrsp) from 1990 to 2009. methods: mortality and population data were obtained from the brazilian institute of geography and statistics and the ministry of health. the risk of death was adjusted by the direct method, having as reference the world population in 2000. results: there was a progressive decrease in the risk of death from ischemic heart disease (ihd) and stroke in brazil and in the mrsp. from 1990 to 2009, there was a decrease in mortality from ihd and stroke in men and women in brazil and in the mrsp. there was a greater reduction in mortality from ihd in men in the mrsp than in brazil (36.24% vs. 23.35%, p <0.001) and in women in the mrsp (44.55% vs. 29.5%; p <0.001). the highest reduction in stroke mortality was observed in men in the mrsp, when compared to brazil (42.43% vs. 34.9%, p = 0.036) and an equal reduction in women in the mrsp and in brazil (42.98% vs. 36.15%, p = 0.082). the decrease in mortality was significant for all age groups. conclusion: we observed a progressive decrease in mortality from cvd, ihd and stroke in brazil and in the mrsp. in spite of this decrease, we still have high rates of mortality from these diseases.