Non-metropolitan areas have a higher mortality from cardiovascular disease than metropolitan areas. The study's aim was to establish the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors in a rural area and identify their sociodemographic determinants. Adults, randomly selected from Ballarat's electoral rolls, were invited to complete a questionnaire and have their height, weight, blood pressure and fasting lipids measured. Three hundred and thirty-eight eligible persons participated (67% response). The data were analysed using logistic and multiple regression analyses. Increasing age was associated with hypertension, high plasma cholesterol, overweight/obesity, high plasma triglyceride levels and increasing plasma fibrinogen. Women were less likely to be overweight/obese and have a high plasma triglyceride. Not having completed high school was associated with hypertension, high plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels and physical inactivity. Smoking was associated with employment and being in a non-professional/managerial occupation. Rural health promotion initiatives should take account of the needs of these population subgroups.