Background The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2017 comparative risk assessment (CRA) is a comprehensive approach to risk factor quantification that offers a useful tool for synthesising evidence on risks and risk-outcome associations. With each annual GBD study, we update the GBD CRA to incorporate improved methods, new risks and risk-outcome pairs, and new data on risk exposure levels and risk- outcome associations. Methods We used the CRA framework developed for previous iterations of GBD to estimate levels and trends in exposure, attributable deaths, and attributable disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), by age group, sex, year, and location for 84 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or groups of risks from 1990 to 2017. This study included 476 risk-outcome pairs that met the GBD study criteria for convincing or probable evidence of causation. We extracted relative risk and exposure estimates from 46 749 randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, household surveys, census data, satellite data, and other sources. We used statistical models to pool data, adjust for bias, and incorporate covariates. Using the counterfactual scenario of theoretical minimum risk exposure level (TMREL), we estimated the portion of deaths and DALYs that could be attributed to a given risk. We explored the relationship between development and risk exposure by modelling the relationship between the Socio-demographic Index (SDI) and risk-weighted exposure prevalence and estimated expected levels of exposure and risk-attributable burden by SDI. Finally, we explored temporal changes in risk-attributable DALYs by decomposing those changes into six main component drivers of change as follows: (1) population growth; (2) changes in population age structures; (3) changes in exposure to environmental and occupational risks; (4) changes in exposure to behavioural risks; (5) changes in exposure to metabolic risks; and (6) changes due to all other factors, approximated as the risk-deleted death and DALY rates, where the risk-deleted rate is the rate that would be observed had we reduced the exposure levels to the TMREL for all risk factors included in GBD 2017.