OBJECTIVE: The psychiatric and medical characteristics of victims of homicide have not been systematically studied and are often confounded by race. This study was undertaken to determine health and social factors contributing to the risk of being murdered in the Swedish, predominantly Caucasian population. METHOD: All 1,739 homicides between 1978 and 1994 in Sweden were studied in terms of variables in national case registers regarding health, crimes, immigration, and marital status. The same data were extracted for matched comparison persons in the general population, with controls for time of exposure. The data were analyzed by conditional logistic regression on matched pairs. RESULTS: Traumatic brain injury, physical abuse, alcohol dependence, and criminal recidivism conferred risk of being murdered. CONCLUSIONS: To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of traumatic brain injury, in both men and women, as a risk factor for being murdered. Brain injury may mark risk-taking behavior in general or may cause provocative behavior.