Left ventricular (LV) diastolic dysfunction is prevalent in the community. Current assessment of diastolic function can be complex, involving Doppler evaluation of an array of hemodynamic data. The relation between left atrial (LA) volume and diastolic function, and between LA volume and cardiovascular risk and disease burden are not well known. In the present prospective study of 140 adults, mean age 58 +/- 19 years, referred for a clinically-indicated echocardiogram and in sinus rhythm, with no history of atrial arrhythmias or valvular heart disease, we determined the LA volume, LV diastolic function status, cardiovascular risk score (based on age, gender, history of systemic hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, and smoking), and cardiovascular disease burden (based on confirmed vascular disease, congestive heart failure, and transient ischemic attack or stroke). LA volume was found to correlate positively with age, body surface area, cardiovascular risk score, LV end-diastolic and end-systolic dimensions, LV mass, diastolic function grade, tissue Doppler E/E', tricuspid regurgitation velocity, and negatively with LV ejection fraction (all p <0.006). In a multivariate clinical model, LA volume indexed to body surface area (indexed LA volume) was independently associated with cardiovascular risk score (p <0.001), congestive heart failure (p = 0.014), vascular disease (p = 0.012), transient ischemic attack or stroke (p = 0.021), and history of smoking (p = 0.008). In a clinical and echocardiographic model, indexed LA volume was strongly associated with diastolic function grade (p <0.001), independent of LV ejection fraction, age, gender, and cardiovascular risk score. In patients without a history of atrial arrhythmias or valvular heart disease, LA volume expressed the severity of diastolic dysfunction and provided an index of cardiovascular risk and disease burden.