The Reykjavik Study is a large population-based cohort study, starting in 1967. A total of 9,139 men, born in the years 1907 to 1934, have been followed for 4 to 24 years. Heart size was determined by chest roentgenogram in 2 planes and cardiomegaly, defined as a relative heart size exceeding 550 ml/m2, was detected in 517. Multivariate Cox regression analysis was used to estimate the independent contribution of variables measured at each participant's first visit to the risk of both all-cause and coronary artery disease (CAD) mortality. Cardiomegaly was detected in 3.7% of men aged < 40 years and in 21.2% of those > 75 years. One half of these men had hypertension, one third had manifestations of CAD, and 37% had neither. Among men with cardiomegaly, the presence of CAD had marked deleterious effect on prognosis. Serum total cholesterol and systolic blood pressure were significant independent risk factors of CAD mortality with risk ratio of 1.008 per mg/dl serum cholesterol (95% confidence interval 1.00 to 1.01; p = 0.004) and 1.015/mm Hg (95% confidence interval 1.000 to 1.300; p = 0.043), respectively. Smoking > 25 cigarettes/day carried a 2.3-fold risk (95% confidence interval 1.3 to 4.4; p = 0.008) of all-cause mortality. The traditional risk factors for CAD, serum cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking maintain their detrimental effect on prognosis among patients with cardiomegaly. These findings have implications for secondary prevention, signifying that in the presence of cardiomegaly, complacency is not justified in controlling major risk factors for CAD.