OBJECTIVES: To describe tobacco use, obesity and overweight, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and impaired glucose tolerance in Alaska Native and American Indian women living in the Anchorage area. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional evaluation of women enrolled in the Traditions of the Heart program. METHODS: Traditions of the Heart was a randomized controlled trial of an intervention to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Starting in October 2000, Southcentral Foundation provided a 12-week group lifestyle intervention to eligible Alaska Native and American Indian women aged 40 to 64 residing in the Anchorage area. The study included assessment of biochemical and behavioral risk factors for cardiovascular disease. RESULTS: Of the 1334 women who enrolled between October 2000 and July 2005, 33.5% were current smokers, 78.8% were overweight or obese, 10.9% were hypertensive, 21.4% had elevated total cholesterol, and 5.6% had fasting glucose concentrations > or = 126 mg/dL. CONCLUSIONS: The women in this study had many risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Interventions are needed to reduce these risk factors among Alaska Native women.