Cardiovascular risk factors as well as morbidity and mortality from coronary heart disease among Turkish adults are herein reviewed. Lipids and lipoproteins are in focus, but other relevant risk factors are also discussed. Turks have distinctively low levels of total and high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol, associated with high levels of hepatic lipase and fasting triglycerides. In addition, physical inactivity is common in both genders; close to 60% of men have the smoking habit, while obesity is common among Turkish women leading to a high prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in them. These factors probably account fur the unanticipated fact that Turkish adults have the pattern of causes of death similar to a developed population, although the process of industrialization is ongoing, the structure of its population is young and overall cholesterol levels are comparatively low. The age-standardized coronary heart disease death rate is estimated to rank among the highest in Europe. The leading independent predictors of coronary events and death [systolic blood pressure, total/HDL-cholesterol ratio. followed by diabetes and (central) obesity] are related to the metabolic syndrome, estimated to prevail in 3-4% of adults aged 30 or over, and to underlie one-eighth of cases of coronary disease. Since several adverse factors exhibit a rising trend, primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease must assume a much higher priority in various issues in Turkey than it currently does. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.