Estimating the health burden of air pollution against the background of population aging is of great significance for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 3.9 which aims to substantially reduce the deaths and illnesses from air pollution. Here, we estimated spatiotemporal changes in deaths attributable to PM2.5 air pollution in China from 2000 to 2035 and examined the drivers. The results show that from 2019 to 2035, deaths were projected to decease 15.4% (6.6%–20.7%, 95% CI) and 8.4% (0.6%–13.5%) under the SSP1-2.6 and SSP5-8.5 scenario, respectively, but increase 10.4% (5.1%–20.5%) and 18.1% (13.0%–28.3%) under SSP2-4.5 and SSP3-7.0 scenarios. Population aging will be the leading contributor to increased deaths attributable to PM2.5 air pollution, which will counter the positive gains achieved by improvements in air pollution and healthcare. Region-specific measures are required to mitigate the health burden of air pollution and this requires long-term efforts and mutual cooperation among regions in China.