The Canadian Heart Health Surveys are cross-sectional, population-based cardiovascular disease risk factor surveys that took place in each of the 10 Canadian provinces between 1986 and 1992. Hypertension awareness, treatment, and control status are examined. Of 23,129 randomly selected, noninstitutionalized respondents aged 18 to 74 years, 85% had four blood pressure (BP) measurements taken under standardized conditions, two at home during a home interview and two at a following clinic visit. The mean of all available measurements was used to determine hypertension status. Estimates are weighted and represent population values. Only 2% of respondents had never had their BP checked, and 73% had had their BP checked in the last 12 months. A systolic or diastolic BP > or = 140/90 mm Hg was found in 22% of participants (26% of men, 18% of women), representing 4.1 million Canadians. Overall, 16% of participants were treated and controlled; 23% were treated and not controlled; 19% were not treated and not controlled; and 42% were unaware of their hypertension (47% of men and 35% of women). Among hypertensives 18 to 34 years old, 64% of men and 19% of women were unaware of their hypertension. Among treated and not controlled hypertensives 63% had a mean systolic BP > or = 150 mm Hg, and 29% a diastolic BP > or = 95 mm Hg, suggesting that an important number of Canadians treated for hypertension are still at increased risk. Despite frequent interactions with the health care system, too many Canadians are still not well controlled or are unaware of their hypertension.