ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION Cirrhosis of the liver is a chronic disease that is widespread and irreversible. It represents the final stage of numerous diseases that affect the liver. By the end of 2017, it was the 11th most common cause of death, with a loss of 41.4 million years of disability-adjusted life years, which represent 2.1% of the total years of life lost in the global mortality burden. In Cuba, cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases have been among the top 10 causes of death for several decades, their rates consistently increasing, from 576 deaths in 1970 (6.7 per 100,000 population) to 1738 in 2017 (15.5 per 100,000 population), with a risk of death that is 4.6 times higher in men. OBJECTIVE Characterize deaths from cirrhosis of the liver in Cuba from 1987 to 2017. METHODS An ecological time-series study was conducted for 1987 to 2017 using information obtained from the mortality database of the Medical Records and Health Statistics Bureau of Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health. The study universe consisted of all deceased persons in the country whose underlying cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver. Both general mortality rates and specific mortality were calculated by age group, sex and etiological classification using adjusted and crude rates. Rates were age-adjusted using the direct method, and the population from the 2002 Census of Population and Housing was considered as the standard population. Percentages and means were also calculated according to selected variables and the relative risk of death due to the disease according to sex, age group and etiological classification. The trend and forecast for mortality rates were estimated for this disease. RESULTS The crude mortality rate from cirrhosis of the liver was 9.0 per 100,000 population for the period. Those aged ≥75 years had the highest risk of death (48.3 per 100,000 population). The crude and adjusted mortality rates were almost double for men (12.4 vs. 5.6 and 11.7 vs. 5.6 per 100,000 population, respectively), as was the total relative risk of death, which was 2.2 times higher. Nonalcoholic cirrhosis accounted for 71.6% of deaths. By the end of 2017, risk of death from cirrhosis had climbed to 14.8 per 100,000 population (adjusted rate: 10.6 per 100,000 population), a signal that mortality had progressively increased over the 31 years analyzed. In addition, forecasts predict that death rates will continue their gradual increase, reaching 19.2 per 100,000 population in 2025. CONCLUSIONS Deaths from cirrhosis of the liver constitute a substantial health burden in Cuba. The upward trend and forecast, in addition to increased risk of mortality in men and older adults, are similar to those reported internationally. The finding that most of these deaths result from nonalcoholic cirrhosis should be further studied, as formulation of effective public health strategies depends largely on attaining a better understanding of the etiology, progression and social determinants of the disease.