Background Recently, it has been assumed that resistance of Plasmodium to chloroquine increased malaria mortality. The study aimed to assess the impact of chemoresistance on mortality attributable to malaria in a rural area of Senegal, since the emergence of resistance in 1992, whilst chloroquine was used as first-line treatment of malaria, until the change in national anti-malarial policy in 2003. Methods The retrospective study took place in the demographic surveillance site (DSS) of Niakhar. Data about malaria morbidity were obtained from health records of three health care facilities, where diagnosis of malaria was based on clinical signs. Source of data concerning malaria mortality were verbal autopsies performed by trained fieldworkers and examined by physicians who identified the probable cause of death. Results From 1992 to 2004, clinical malaria morbidity represented 39% of total morbidity in health centres. Mean malaria mortality was 2.4‰ and 10.4‰ among total population and children younger than five years, respectively, and was highest in the 1992-1995 period. It tended to decline from 1992 to 2003 (Trend test, total population p = 0.03, children 0-4 years p = 0.12 - children 1-4 years p = 0.04- children 5-9 years p = 0.01). Conclusion Contrary to what has been observed until 1995, mortality attributable to malaria did not continue to increase dramatically in spite of the growing resistance to chloroquine and its use as first-line treatment until 2003. Malaria morbidity and mortality followed parallel trends and rather fluctuated accordingly to rainfall.