The research, published in the British medical journal the Lancet, suggests 1.24 million people died from the mosquito-borne disease in 2010.
This compares to a World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate for 2010 of 655,000 deaths.
But both the new study and the WHO indicate global death rates are now falling.
The research was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It used new data and new computer modelling to build a historical database for malaria between 1980 and 2010.
The conclusion was that worldwide deaths had risen from 995,000 in 1980 to a peak of 1.82 million in 2004, before falling to 1.24 million in 2010.