Mr Kirchner, 60, who had been operated on in September for heart problems, died in the southern Argentine city of El Calafate, local media reported.
His wife, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is the current president of the country.
Mr Kirchner served as president from 2003 to 2007, and was being tipped to stand for election again in 2011.
He had remained a member of the Argentine congress and secretary general of the South American regional grouping, Unasur.
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