We studied fat distribution and metabolic risk factors in 434 38-year old women selected from population registrars in 5 cities in different parts of Europe. In the present study we focussed on the geographical variation in serum concentrations of free testosterone and its relation to measures of obesity, fat distribution and indicators of cardiovascular risk (serum lipids, insulin, and blood pressure). There were significant differences in free testosterone levels (F = 5.4, p less than 0.001) with lowest levels in Polish women (mean +/- SEM: 1.56 +/- 0.08 pg/ml) and highest in women from Italy (2.07 +/- 0.12 pg/ml). In the pooled data, free testosterone levels were correlated with several anthropometric variables (strongest with subscapular/triceps ratio r = 0.27, with subscapular skinfold and waist/thigh circumference ratio r = 0.25 p-values less than 0.001). In addition, free testosterone was positively correlated with serum total cholesterol (r = 0.11), HDL/total cholesterol fraction (r = 0.12), serum insulin (r = 0.20) and diastolic blood pressure (r = 0.15). These associations remained significant after adjustment for body mass index and waist/thigh ratio (not for diastolic blood pressure) but were no longer significant after further adjustment for insulin levels. There were considerable differences in strength of the associations mentioned between the 5 centers. We conclude that degree of obesity, fat distribution and serum levels of free testosterone all, to a limited degree, contribute to the metabolic profile of randomly selected 38-year old women but that adjustment for such variables increases the differences in metabolic profiles between women from different centers of Europe.