It has long been argued that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training should be targeted at those most likely to be on the scene when a cardiac arrest occurs. Since cardiac arrest occurs in the home about three-quarters of the time, the persons most likely to be on hand are family members. We surveyed 244 participants in public (i.e. not offered in a workplace) CPR classes to determine the make up of the population. In contrast to the family members of cardiac patients, who average 55 years of age, CPR class participants are young (mean 30.8 years). The majority (66.8%) of participants are in their twenties and thirties; only 6.6% are aged 50 or older. A minority (18.5%) indicate living with someone at high risk for a heart attack. In at least one respect, CPR class participants do resemble family members of cardiac patients, they are overwhelmingly (69.4%) female. Even in public classes, the majority (78.5%) of persons taking CPR are fulfilling a job requirement. Most (62.0%) have had prior CPR training; about half (49.2%) have had recent (i.e. within three years) training. Targeting of CPR training to the individuals most likely to be at the scene of a cardiac arrest has long been advocated, but the reality is that training does not reach the right people. More research is needed to determine how better to reach these persons.