This study describes urban and rural trends of infant, child and under-five mortality in Mozambique (1973-1997) by mother's place of residence. A direct method of estimation was applied to the 1997 Mozambican Demographic and Health Survey data. The levels of infant, child and under-five mortality were considerably higher in rural than in urban areas. The difference in mortality between urban and rural areas increased over time until 1988-1992 and thereafter diminished. Possible causes of the different trends (e.g. the impact of civil war, drought, migration, adjustment programme and HIV/AIDS) are discussed. The increase in mortality in urban areas during the last few years before the survey may have been related to the immigration to urban areas of mothers whose children had high levels of mortality. Higher levels of infant, child and under-five mortality still prevail, particularly in rural areas. Further studies are needed to investigate the differentials of infant and child mortality by mother's place of residence.