The Mexican-American population of south Texas has been shown previously to have elevated frequencies of gallbladder disease, based on medical history. In the present study, ultrasonography was employed to screen 1004 randomly selected individuals aged 15 to 74 years. Among women, the frequency of previous cholecystectomy was 10.0%; the frequency of stones on ultrasound was 12.2%. In men, the respective frequencies were 1.7% and 6.3%. Highest frequencies of gallbladder disease occurred among those aged 45 years or above: 40.2% and 19.2% among women and men, respectively. Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, obesity, and hypertension were also markedly elevated in this population. Overall, more than 40% of the population had either gallbladder disease, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, obesity, or hypertension. Among those older than 45 years, 70% had one or more of these chronic conditions. Examining the associations of gallbladder disease with other chronic diseases or measures of lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipoproteins demonstrates that factors predictive of or associated with cholecystectomy are different from those for gallstones by ultrasound. Diabetes and obesity show the strongest associations with cholecystectomy among women under 45 years (women with diabetes being 6.8 times as likely to have had a cholecystectomy than those without diabetes). Testing an extensive array of lipid-related measures resulted in no clear patterns, with the possible exception of alpha-lipoprotein and related measures. That the Mexican-American population is relatively young and experiencing extremely rapid growth indicates that the burden of chronic disease in general and gallbladder disease in particular will increase dramatically in the coming years.