Abstract This study investigated the association between socioeconomic disadvantage, social capital, geographic remoteness and mortality in the Australian state of Tasmania. The analysis is based on death rates among persons aged 25–74 years in 41 statistical local areas (SLA) for the period 1998–2000. Multilevel binomial regression indicated that death rates were significantly higher in disadvantaged areas. There was little support for an association between social capital and mortality, thereby contesting the often held notion that social capital is universally important for explaining variations in population health. Similarly, we found little evidence of a link between geographic remoteness and mortality, which contrasts with that found in other Australian states; this probably reflects the small size of Tasmania, and limited variation in the degree of remoteness amongst its SLA.