Elevated ferritin levels have been reported as a risk factor for coronary heart disease in Finnish and Italian studies. Studies in other populations have found no association between ferritin and cardiovascular disease raising the possibility of confounding with other cardiovascular risk factors. We determined ferritin levels, metabolic cardiovascular risk factors, C-reactive protein (CRP), anthropometric measurements and blood pressure in 815 men and women aged 26 years. In women serum ferritin correlated with CRP, waist measurement, body mass index (BMI), and triglycerides. In multiple regression analysis CRP alone was independently associated with serum ferritin. Serum ferritin in men correlated with waist measurement, BMI, triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. After adjustment for the other variables, waist measurement was the only independent predictor of ferritin. Ferritin levels in young men and women are associated with obesity and serum triglycerides, HDL cholesterol in men and inflammation in women. Confounding may contribute to reports of associations between ferritin and cardiovascular disease.