Available data indicate that cardiovascular disease has become the leading cause of death in American Indians. However, limited information is available on cardiovascular disease incidence, prevalence, and risk factors in this population. Reported cardiovascular disease rates vary greatly among groups in different geographic areas. These rates have been obtained from studies of varying sizes and different methodologies. The Strong Heart Study, which uses standardized methodology, is designed to estimate cardiovascular disease mortality and morbidity rates and the prevalence of known and suspected cardiovascular disease risk factors in American Indians. The study population consists of 12 tribes in three geographic areas: an area near Phoenix, Arizona, the southwestern area of Oklahoma, and the Aberdeen area of North and South Dakota. The study includes three components. The first is a mortality survey to estimate cardiovascular disease mortality rates for 1984-1988 among tribal members aged 35-74 years, and the second is a morbidity survey to estimate incidence of both first and first or recurrent hospitalized myocardial infarction and stroke (cerebrovascular disease) among tribal members aged 45-74 years in 1984-1988, and the third is a clinical examination of 4,500 tribal members aged 45-74 years in order to estimate the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and its associations with risk factors. Family history, diet, alcohol and tobacco consumption, physical activity, degree of acculturation, and socioeconomic status are assessed in personal interviews. The physical examination includes measurements of body fat, body circumferences, and blood pressure, an examination of the heart and lungs, an evaluation of peripheral vascular disease, and a 12-lead electrocardiogram. Laboratory measurements include fasting and postload glucose, insulin, fasting lipids, apoproteins, fibrinogen, and glycated hemoglobin. Also measured are serum and urine creatinine and urinary albumin. DNA from lymphocytes is isolated and stored for future genetic studies.