The amount of international aid given to address noncommunicable diseases is minimal. Most of it is directed to wealthier countries and focuses on the prevention of unhealthy lifestyles. Explanations for the current direction of noncommunicable disease aid include that these are diseases of affluence that benefit from substantial research and development into their treatment in high-income countries and are better addressed through domestic tax and policy measures to reduce risk-factor prevalence than through aid programs. This study assessed these justifications. First, we examined the relationships among premature adult mortality, defined as the probability that a person who has lived to the age of fifteen will die before the age of sixty from noncommunicable diseases; the major risk factors for these diseases; and country wealth. Second, we compared noncommunicable and communicable diseases prevalent in poor and wealthy countries alike, and their respective links to economic development. Last, we examined the respective roles that wealth and risk prevention have played in countries that achieved substantial reductions in premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases. Our results support greater investment in cost-effective noncommunicable disease preventive care and treatment in poorer countries and a higher priority for reducing key risk factors, particularly tobacco use.