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MECHANISMS OF AGEING AND DEVELOPMENT. 1991 Jan; 57(1):25-48.Demographic data published by the UN in 1987 are analyzed in terms of the Gompertz function. Projections for maximum lifespans are obtained, with the data broadly divisible into 3 clusters. These are attributable not only to the influence of high infant mortality, but suggest constitutional and/or environmental variations among members of the clusters. The difference between lifespan and life expectancy is estimated analytically. A comparison with earlier analysis supports the view that there are important differences between the life expectancies of the sexes.