March 29 – The World Wrestling Federation (later WWE) produces WrestleMania III from the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. The event is particularly notable for the record attendance of 93,173, the largest recorded attendance for a live indoor sporting event in North America until February 14, 2010, when the 2010 NBA All-Star Game has an attendance of 108,713 at AT&T Stadium.
May 24 – At age 47 and just 5 days before his 48th birthday, Al Unser Sr. became the oldest winner of the Indianapolis 500 and only the second driver to win the event four times.
May 27 – In one of the densest concentrations of humanity in history, a crowd of 800,000+ packed shoulder-to-shoulder onto the Golden Gate Bridge and its approaches for its 50th Anniversary celebration.
May 28 – Eighteen-year-old West German pilot Mathias Rust evades Soviet air defenses and lands a private plane on Red Square in Moscow. He is immediately detained (released on August 3, 1988).
Teddy Seymour is officially designated the first black man to sail around the world, when he completes his solo sailing circumnavigation in Frederiksted, St. Croix, of the United States Virgin Islands.
Iraqi warplanes drop mustard-gas bombs on the Iranian town of Sardasht in two separate bombing rounds, on four residential areas. This is the first time a civilian town was targeted by chemical weapons.
An F4-rated tornado devastates eastern Edmonton, Alberta; hardest hit are an industrial park and a trailer park. 27 people are killed and hundreds injured, with hundreds more left homeless and jobless.
August 17 – Rudolf Hess is found dead in his cell in Spandau Prison. Hess, 93, is believed to have committed suicide by hanging himself with an electrical flex. He was the last remaining prisoner at the complex, which is soon demolished.
September 13 – Goiânia accident: Metal scrappers open an old radiation source abandoned in a hospital in Goiânia, Brazil, causing the worst radiation accident ever in an urban area.
September 15 – Pope John Paul II arrives in Los Angeles for a two-day papal visit, his first one ever to the city, where he makes an arrival day speech to local leaders of the U.S. entertainment industry.
December 20 – In history's worst peacetime sea disaster, the passenger ferry MV Doña Paz sinks after colliding with the oil tanker Vector 1 in the Tablas Strait in the Philippines, killing an estimated 4,000 people (1,749 official).