There is a public health demand to prevent health conditions which lead to increased morbidity and mortality among the rapidly-increasing elderly population. Data for the incidence of such conditions exist in cohort studies worldwide, which, however, differ in various aspects. The Consortium on Health and Ageing: Network of Cohorts in Europe and the United States (CHANCES) project aims at harmonizing data from existing major longitudinal studies for the elderly whilst focussing on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, cancer, fractures and cognitive impairment in order to estimate their prevalence, incidence and cause-specific mortality, and identify lifestyle, socioeconomic, and genetic determinants and biomarkers for the incidence of and mortality from these conditions. A survey instrument assessing ageing-related conditions of the elderly will be also developed. Fourteen cohort studies participate in CHANCES with 683,228 elderly (and 150,210 deaths), from 23 European and three non-European countries. So far, 287 variables on health conditions and a variety of exposures, including biomarkers and genetic data have been harmonized. Different research hypotheses are investigated with meta-analyses. The results which will be produced can help international organizations, governments and policy-makers to better understand the broader implications and consequences of ageing and thus make informed decisions.