A cross-sectional analysis of characteristics possibly associated with congestive heart failure (CHF) was performed among 644 men, all 67 years of age and randomly selected from the general population. A total of 13% had symptoms and signs of overt CHF. Another 10% had early or "latent" CHF. Among overt CHF cases, 46% had hypertension, 55% coronary heart disease and 79% any one of these conditions. Among "latent" CHF cases, the corresponding proportions were 52%, 25% and 65%. Simple indices of left ventricular diastolic function and filling pressure as well as of pulmonary artery pressure were closer related to the CHF stage, than were measures of systolic left ventricular function. Smoking habits, hypertension, blood lipids, weight and other measures of body fat, blood glucose, and serum insulin were all correlated to CHF stage. In a multivariate analysis, smoking habits, hypertension, body weight, and serum insulin were independently and significantly correlated to CHF stage.