The aim of this study was to estimate the global burden of disease from external causes in 2008 in Brazil, based on DALYs (disability-adjusted life years). YLLs (years of life lost) were estimated according to the method proposed by Murray & Lopez (1996). Meanwhile, the method for estimating YLDs (years lived with disability) included methodological adjustments taking the Brazilian reality into account. The study showed a total of 195 DALYs per 100 thousand inhabitants, of which 19 DALYs were related to external causes. Among YLLs, 48% were from unintentional causes and 52% from intentional causes. Among YLDs, unintentional causes predominated, with 95%. The share of YLLs in DALYs was 90%. The cause with the highest proportion of YLLs was "homicide and violence" (43%), followed by "road traffic accidents" (31%). Falls accounted for the highest share of YLDs (36%). The sex ratio (male-to-female) was 4.8 for DALYs, and the predominant age bracket was 15-29 years. Since external causes are avoidable, the study provides potentially useful information for policymakers in public security and health.