Countries that rely on natural resource rents (that is, the revenue generated from the sale of natural resources) may suffer from a variety of social problems. This exploratory study reviews the natural resource extraction literature to derive a ‘natural resource rents–homicide’ hypothesis. Data for 173 countries for the years 2000 to 2012 are examined to determine if there is a correlation between natural resource rents and homicide rates. Multilevel growth models suggest that natural resource rents are positively correlated with homicide rates within countries (level 1) but not between them (level 2). Importantly, the correlation between natural resource rents and homicide is strongest when natural resource rents are lagged. We conclude by suggesting that increasing natural resource rents may be counterproductive over the long run and sow the seeds for a future increase in homicide.