The prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors among women is high and cardiovascular risk factors often occur in clusters. Strong relationships between exposure to cigarette smoke, physical inactivity, hypertension, and abnormal levels of lipoproteins and homocysteine and subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD) in women are evident from many studies, while the impact of menopause, psychosocial factors, and inflammatory markers is less clear and requires further study. Observational studies document that smoking cessation reduces CHD risk among persons with and without existing CHD, and that moderate levels of physical activity are associated with lower CHD risk. Clinical trials over the last decade have convincingly shown that treatment of hypertension and dyslipidemia reduces CHD risk in both genders, but many women (and men) with hypertension and dyslipidemia remain either untreated or under-treated. © 2002, European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved.