To better characterize aging in mice, the Jackson Aging Center carried out a lifespan study of 31 genetically-diverse inbred mouse strains housed in a specific pathogen-free facility. We carried out clinical assessments every 6 months, measuring multiple age-related phenotypes including neuromuscular, kidney and heart function, body composition, bone density, hematology, hormonal levels, and immune system parameters. In a concurrent cross-sectional study of the same 31 strains at 6, 12, and 20 months, we carried out more invasive measurements followed by necropsy to assess apoptosis, DNA repair, chromosome fragility, and histopathology. In this report, which is the initial paper of a series, we describe the study design, median lifespans, and circulating IGF1 levels at 6, 12 and 18 months for the first cohort of 32 females and 32 males of each strain. Survival curves varied dramatically among strains with median lifespans ranging from 251 to 964 days. Plasma IGF1 levels, which also varied considerably at each time point, showed an inverse correlation with median lifespan at 6 months (R=−0.33, P=0.01). This correlation became stronger if the short-lived strains with a median lifespan<600 days were removed from the analysis (R=−0.53, P<0.01). These results support the hypothesis that the IGF1 pathway plays a key role in regulating longevity in mice and indicates that common genetic mechanisms may exist for regulating IGF1 levels and lifespan.