We compared patterns of species diversity, locomotory morphology, feeding modes, and spatial organisation for rodent communities in four Asian deserts (Kyzylkum, Gobi, Thar, Negev) and one North American (Chihuahuan) desert. Deserts were similar in gamma and alpha diversity. A positive relationship between regional species diversity (and biomass) and mean annual precipitation was found. The Asian deserts showed a greater degree of divergence and specialisation between bipedal and quadrupedal forms. The range of feeding modes was similar in deserts on both continents, but the Negev was the only Asian desert in which granivory was as important as in the Chihuahuan. Temperate Asian desert rodents were organised into spatial guilds, separated primarily by characteristics of the soil and perennial vegetation. North American desert rodent species overlapped more extensively in habitat use. The similarities and differences between these deserts can be explained by their biogeographic histories.