International Year of the Reef
- February 11 - Don Porter, actor.
- February 19 - Xiaoping Deng
- July 2 - James Stewart
- August 2 - William S. Burroughs, US author
- August 31 - Diana, English princess
- September 5 - Georg Solti
- September 5 - Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa)
- September 9 - Burgess Meredith
- September 17 - Red Skelton
- December 3 - Kathy Acker, post-punk post-feminist and post-industrial author
- Allen Ginsberg, US poet
- February 11 - Bill Parcells becomes head coach of New York Jets.
- May 1 - The UK's Labour Party end 18 years of Conservative rule in the 1997 UK general election
- May 11 - IBM's Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov, the first time a computer beat a chess grand master
- September 11 - Scotland votes to create its own Parliament after 290 years of union with England.
- South Korea suffers a severe economic crisis
- Physics - Steven Chu, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, William D. Phillips
- Chemistry - Paul D Boyer, John E Walker, Jens C Skou
- Medicine - Stanley B Prusiner
- Literature - Dario Fo
- Peace - International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and Jody Williams
- Economics - Robert Merton, Myron Scholes