This study examines the association between a household’s degree of vulnerability to food crisis and the incidence of deaths using primary survey data carried out to look at the demographic consequences of drought and famine in the drought-prone areas of northern Ethiopia. Retrospective data on the occurrences of deaths within a household were collected for the period 1984 to 1994. Consistent with previous studies, the findings confirm that mortality was clustered among the age groups 1–4 and 5–9 and varied considerably by famine and non-famine years. Enormous variation in incidence of deaths was also observed by region, ethnicity and religion. Most importantly, the analysis provides substantial evidence that the level of household vulnerability to food crisis is strongly related to the number of hunger-related deaths reported in a household.