Fishery-independent sampling was used to determine growth patterns, life span, mortality rates and timing of maturation and sex change in 12 common parrotfishes (Labridae: tribe Scarinae) from five genera (Calotomus, Cetoscarus, Chlorurus, Hipposcarus and Scarus) in Micronesia. Interspecific variation in life-history traits was explored using multivariate analysis. All species displayed strong sex-specific patterns of length-at-age among which males reached larger asymptotic lengths. There was a high level of correlation among life-history traits across species. Relationships between length-based and age-based variables were weakest, with a tenuous link between maximum body size and life span. Cluster analysis based on similarities among life-history traits demonstrated that species were significantly grouped at two major levels. The first grouping was driven by length-based variables (lengths at maturity and sex change and maximum length) and separated the small- and large-bodied species. Within these, species were grouped by age-based variables (age at maturity, mortality and life span). Groupings based on demographic and life-history features were independent of phylogenetic relationships at the given taxonomic level. The results reiterate that body size is an important characteristic differentiating species, but interspecific variation in age-based traits complicates its use as a life-history proxy. Detailed life-history metrics should facilitate future quantitative assessments of vulnerability to overexploitation in multispecies fisheries.