Malamir was a son of Omurtag and a grandson of Krum. His name is said to be of Slavic origin, and is claimed to be the first Bulgar khan to possess a Slavic name. This has led to the speculation that his mother was a Slav, which cannot be proven.
Malamir became ruler of Bulgaria in 831 on the death of his father Omurtag, because his older brother Enravota (Voin) had forfeited his right to the succession by becoming a Christian. It is possible that Malamir was young and inexperienced at the time of his accession, and that affairs of state were managed by his minister (kaukhanos) Isbul.
Around 833, Malamir executed his older brother Enravota for refusing to renounce Christianity. After the expiration of the original 20-year peace treaty with the Byzantine Empire in 836, emperor Theophilos ravaged the regions inside the Bulgarian frontier.
The Bulgarians retaliated, and under the leadership of Isbul they reached Adrianople. At this time, if not earlier, the Bulgarians annexed Philippopolis (Plovdiv) and its environs.
Malamir died in 836, allegedly as retribution for his execution of his older brother.