The amount of abdominal visceral adipose tissue measured by computed tomography is a critical correlate of the potentially "atherogenic" metabolic disturbances associated with abdominal obesity. In this study conducted in samples of 81 men and 70 women, data are presented on the anthropometric correlates of abdominal visceral adipose tissue accumulation and related cardiovascular disease risk factors (triglyceride and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, fasting and postglucose insulin and glucose levels). Results indicate that the waist circumference and the abdominal sagittal diameter are better correlates of abdominal visceral adipose tissue accumulation than the commonly used waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). In women, the waist circumference and the abdominal sagittal diameter also appeared more closely related to the metabolic variables than the WHR. When the samples were divided into quintiles of waist circumference, WHR or abdominal sagittal diameter, it was noted that increasing values of waist circumference and abdominal sagittal diameter were more consistently associated with increases in fasting and postglucose insulin levels than increasing values of WHR, especially in women. These findings suggest that the waist circumference or the abdominal sagittal diameter, rather than the WHR, should be used as indexes of abdominal visceral adipose tissue deposition and in the assessment of cardiovascular risk. It is suggested from these data that waist circumference values above approximately 100 cm, or abdominal sagittal diameter values > 25 cm are most likely to be associated with potentially "atherogenic" metabolic disturbances.