Following are the key dates in the life of the former Iraqi president:
April 28, 1937 - Born in al-Awja village outside Tikrit, 150 km (90 miles) north of Baghdad.
October 1956 - Joins uprising against pro-British royalist rulers and then becomes a militant in the pan-Arab, secular Baath Party.
October 1959 - A year after the overthrow of monarchy, he takes part in an attempt to kill prime minister Abdel-Karim Kassem, then flees abroad.
February 1963 - Returns to Baghdad when the Baath Party seizes power in a military coup. However, the Baathists are toppled, caught and jailed nine months later. Saddam was elected deputy secretary-general of the party while in prison.
July 1968 - Saddam helps plot the coup that puts the Baath Party back in power, deposing president Abdul-Rahman Aref.
March 1975 - As vice-president of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), he signs border agreement with the Shah of Iran, who ends support for an Iraqi Kurdish revolt, causing its collapse.
July 16, 1979 - Takes power after president Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr steps aside as chairman of the RCC.
September 22, 1980 - Following border skirmishes, Saddam launches war on Iran that lasts eight whole years.
March 16, 1988 - Iraqi forces launch a chemical attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja, killing about 5,000 people.
August 20, 1988 - A ceasefire is officially implemented in the Iran-Iraq war. The campaign against Kurds continues.
August 2, 1990 - Launches invasion of Kuwait, prompting UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iraq.
January 17, 1991 - US-led forces start Gulf War with air attacks on Iraq and occupied Kuwait. Hostilities end on February 28 with eviction of Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
October 15, 1995 - Saddam wins a presidential referendum and is elected unopposed with more than 99 per cent of the vote.
October 15, 2002 - Official results show Saddam wins 100 per cent votes in a referendum for a new term in office.
December 7, 2002 - Saddam apologises for invasion of Kuwait but blames the emirate's leadership. Kuwait rejects the apology.
February 2003 - In his first interview in more than a decade, Saddam denies presence of banned weapons in Baghdad and slams reports of links with al Qaeda.
March 20, 2003 - US launches war against Iraq.
April 9, 2003 - US forces sweep into the heart of Baghdad as Saddam Hussein's 24-year rule crumbles.
July 22, 2003 - US military confirms Saddam's two sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed in a gunbattle in Mosul.
December 14, 2003 - US officials announce capture of Saddam.
October 19, 2005 - Trial opens and Saddam is charged with crimes against humanity, for the killing of 148 Shi'ite men in Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt. He pleads not guilty.
August 21, 2006 - Saddam refuses to enter a plea as the trial starts on charges of war crimes in the "Anfal" campaign that killed tens of thousands of Kurdish villagers in 1988.
November 5, 2006 - A court in Baghdad finds Saddam guilty of crimes against humanity and awards him death sentence.