For more than a hundred years, the United States has operated a decentralized vital statistics system as an essential component of public health. Statistics based on births and deaths registered in the United States are a primary source of data used to track health status, to plan, implement, and evaluate health and social services, and to set health policy. The national vital statistics system provides nearly complete, continuous, and comparable federal, state, and local data. The system, however, is based on outmoded vital registration practices and structures, which raises concerns about data quality, timeliness, and the lack of real-time linkage capabilities. While many organizations are working together to address these issues and have made notable achievements, questions remain to be answered. Efforts to rejuvenate the nation's vital statistics system will need to expand dramatically to provide public health with a timely, high-quality, and flexible system to monitor vital health outcomes at the local, state, and national levels.