Eighteen-year-old Alexandria Mills was named the winner in Saturday night's contest in southern China.
Second place went to Emma Wareus of Botswana, and Adriana Vasini of Venezuela came third.
The host country's own contestant, Tang Xiao, also was among the final five.
According to a brief biography on the Miss World website, Mills calls Louisville, Kentucky, her hometown, and she recently graduated from high school. She would like to become a teacher.
"I've never met a stranger and enjoy meeting new people," she says in the bio.
Women from more than 100 countries participated in the contest, organizers said.
This is the 60th year of the Miss World Competition.