We tested the hypothesis that lifetime mortality patterns and their corresponding rates and causal factors differ among populations of stream-living salmonids. To this end, we examined the lifetime mortality patterns of several successive cohorts of two stream-living brown trout (Salmo trutta) populations in Spain and Denmark. In the southern population, we observed a consistent two-phase pattern, in which mortality was negligible during the first half of the lifetime and severe during the rest of the lifetime. In contrast, the northern population demonstrated a three-phase pattern with an earlier phase varying from negligible to severe, followed by a second stage of weak mortality, and lastly by a third life stage of severe mortality. Despite substantial differences in the mortality patterns between the two populations, the combined effect of recruitment (as a proxy of the density-dependent processes occurring during the lifetime) and mean body mass (as a proxy of growth experienced by individuals in a given cohort) explained c. 89% of the total lifetime mortality rates across cohorts and populations. A comparison with other published data on populations of stream-living brown trout within its native range highlighted lifetime mortality patterns of one, two, three and four phases, but also suggested that common patterns may occur in populations that experience similar individual growth and population density. ?? 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.