The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that physicians advise their patients regarding smoking cessation, weight loss, and physical inactivity. Few studies, however, have assessed the extent to which persons with these risk factors receive advice from their physicians. Using data from the 1990-1991 Missouri Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a random digit-dialed telephone survey of adults, we identified Missouri residents with one or more of these modifiable risk factors. We examined whether these persons reported being advised by their physicians to modify their behavior(s) within the past year. Of the 2,791 respondents, 764 (26%) smoked, 1,720 (59%) were sedentary, and 686 (23%) were overweight. Five hundred and thirty-five smokers reported having a routine checkup within the past year, but only 224 (42%) reported being advised by their physicians to stop smoking. Of the 1,246 sedentary persons who had a routine checkup within the past year, 192 (15%) reported being told by their physicians to exercise more. Of the 521 overweight respondents who had a routine checkup within the past year, 225 (43%) reported being advised to lose weight. Physician advice for these risk factors was less frequently reported among men, blacks, younger persons, and persons from rural areas. Although most Missouri residents with these modifiable risk factors reported seeing their physicians within the past year, less than half reported that they received advice from their physicians to alter their risk behavior(s). Further efforts are necessary to increase the effectiveness of physician advice for at-risk patients about quitting smoking, losing weight, and increasing physical activity.