Introduction: maternal mortality is a widely used indicator to measure the health inequality of a population, especially in the care related to the mother and child binomial. In Colombia, in general, aspects related to the clinical and individual risk factors of pregnant women who have died have been studied, however, the analysis of the impact of premature death of a pregnant woman has not been investigated in the country. Objective: calculate the years of life potentially lost for the causes of maternal mortality and establish the trend of this event between 2010 and 2015 in Colombia. Methodology: retrospective descriptive study. From the official records of early maternal mortality of the National Department of Statistics of Colombia from 2010 - 2015, we calculate the ratio of maternal death and the years of life potentially lost to each social, demographic and basic cause of death analyzed. The statistical significance of trends and differences between periods was assessed by means of an independent proportions test. The data was stored and processed in IBM® SPSS® Statistics version 24.0, Epidat version 4.2 and Arcgis Desktop version 10.4. Results: Maternal death decreased significantly, from 67.99 cases per 100,000 live births in 2010-12 to 53.68 in 2013-15. There were 784,177 years of life potentially lost per 100,000 women of childbearing age. The reason for maternal death among women who did not receive formal education was 7 to 10 times more than those who had a tertiary education, for indigenous and palenqueras women were almost 4 and 6 times higher than those reported in mestizo women. The cases resident in rural areas were almost twice as many as those who died in the urban capital. Direct maternal death was the main cause of potentially lost years of life. Discussion and conclusion: life years potentially lost in middle-aged women with direct obstetric complications contribute disproportionately to the social and economic burden of premature mortality in Colombia. Despite the country's progress in reducing this indicator, interventions in health and public policies are urgently required to meet the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.