Although sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) has been shown to be very prevalent in the elderly, little has been done to examine differences between the elderly of different racial groups. It has been well documented that SDB often results in hypertension and that hypertension is more common in African-Americans than in Caucasians. Therefore, one might suspect that SDB might be more common in African-Americans. Caucasians (n = 346) and African-Americans (n = 54) older than 65 yr of age were studied. African-Americans reported less satisfaction with sleep (p = 0.017), more difficulty falling asleep (p < 0.001), more daytime sleepiness (p = 0.0014), and more frequent morning headaches (p = 0.0043). African-Americans napped 0.8 times more frequently per evening (p = 0.05) and 11 min longer per nap (p = 0.019) than did Caucasians, and they showed a trend toward more total sleep time (428 versus 408 min). Of greater interest was the fact that more African-Americans had severe SDB with a relative risk twofold as great (relative risk = 2.13) as that for Caucasians, which was confirmed in a logistic regression analysis where race was associated with the presence of SDB (RDI > or = 30) independently of age, sex, and body mass index. The mean RDI for those African-Americans with severe SDB was significantly higher than that for Caucasians (72.1 versus 43.3; p = 0.014).