Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was handpicked to succeed Malaysia's ruler of two decades, Mahathir Mohamad, when he stepped down in October 2003.
Mr Abdullah fell out with predecessor Mahathir Mohamad
He had a reputation as a clean administrator and a tough negotiator, but many wondered if he could emerge from the shadow of his commanding predecessor.
Six months after taking office, Mr Abdullah won a landslide victory in snap general elections, and used that mandate to embark upon a programme of reform.
But his popularity ebbed as he failed to make good on elections promises, particularly on a pledge to tackle corruption.
Amid rising ethnic tensions and economic worries, his coalition won the March 2008 election, but it did so with its worst result in five decades.
He struggled to recover from the blow, and in October he announced he would step down in March 2009.
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was born into a prominent family in the northern state of Penang in November 1939.
His father was a founding member of Umno, which sealed Malaysia's independence from colonial power Britain and remains the country's ruling party.
After a degree in Islamic studies and a period working in the civil service, Mr Abdullah entered politics upon his father's death.
He was elected to parliament in 1978 as member for the Kepala Batas constituency in Penang, and rose quickly to prominence.
He served as both minister of education and defence, before being appointed foreign minister in 1991.
In 1999 he became deputy prime minister after his predecessor, Anwar Ibrahim, was jailed on corruption and sodomy charges which many saw as politically motivated.
The fourth person to hold the deputy's post under Dr Mahathir, Mr Abdullah took care to limit his profile and measure his words.
When Dr Mahathir made a shock resignation announcement in June 2002, he was one of the first people to rush to his side and try to change his mind.
Just over a year later, it was to Mr Abdullah that the man who had led Malaysia for 22 years transferred power.
The two later fell out as the new prime minister chose not to pursue some of the mega-projects favoured by his predecessor.
Dr Mahathir accused him of corruption and publicly announced that he regretted his choice of successor.
But Malaysia's former leader is not the only problem Mr Abdullah has had to contend with.
He has been under pressure to quit since disastrous election results in early 2007, in which the government lost its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time since Malaysian independence.
He has faced discontent within his own party, and also an increasingly strong opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim.
He has now announced that he will step down from office in March 2009.
The move will effectively hand power of the ruling National Front coalition, and therefore the job of prime minister, to his deputy Najib Razak.