Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the major cause of death in Canada, as it is in most industrialized countries. Studies have shown that CVD mortality rates vary among ethnic groups. Since about one in six Canadian residents is a first generation immigrant, it is important to consider ethnic background when interpreting Canadian health statistics or planning health services. Overall, lower CVD mortality rates were found for first generation Canadians from Latin America, China and South Asia; higher rates are indicated for those from Scandinavia and Africa. The rates for North America are similar to those found for Eastern and Western Europe. Between two five-year time periods (1969-73 and 1984-88), CVD mortality rates generally were found to decrease, except for immigrants from Africa (age 35+). The rates were consistently higher for males than for females.