- February 11 - Frank Herbert, science fiction author.
- February 28 - Swedish prime minister Olof Palme
- June 14 - Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine writer
- August 31 - Henry Moore, sculptor
- December 28 - Andrei Tarkovsky, Russian movie director
- January 28 - Space Shuttle Challenger accident
- February 28 - Swedish prime minister Olof Palme is shot dead on his way home from the cinema.
- February 11 - Human Rights activist Anatoly Scharansky is released by USSR, leaves the country.
- Argentina wins Football World Cup in Mexico
- April 30 - Chernobyl explosion
- Physics- Ernst Ruska, Gerd Binnig, Heinrich Rohrer
- Chemistry - Dudley R Herschbach, Yuan T Lee, John C Polanyi
- Medicine - Stanley Cohen, Rita Levi-Montalcini
- Literature - Wole Soyinka
- Peace - Elie Wiesel
- Economics - James Buchanan Jr