OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to compare a group of immigrant women from the Middle East living in Sweden to Swedish-born controls regarding the prevalence of certain cardiovascular risk factors. DESIGN: Health survey of randomly selected foreign-born women and women native in Sweden. SETTING: Uppsala, Sweden. SUBJECTS: A total of 107 immigrant women aged 35-64 years from the Middle East (Iran [N=71] and Turkey [N=36]) living in Uppsala and residents in Sweden for at least three years and a control group of ethnic Swedish women (N=50). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: A questionnaire and a clinical examination specially directed towards measuring cardiovascular risk factors and prevalence of obesity, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. RESULTS: A less beneficial cardiovascular risk profile was found among immigrant women than among ethnic Swedish women. Turkish women had substantially higher body mass index (BMI), larger waist, higher waist/hip ratio and sagittal abdominal diameter, higher levels of serum triglycerides, and lower HDL cholesterol concentration compared with Swedish-born women. A similar tendency was seen also for Iranian women. CONCLUSION: The present study shows important ethnic differences in cardiovascular disease risk factor pattern. Immigrant women from Iran and Turkey are heavier than women born in Sweden and have a higher prevalence of abdominal obesity, an unfavorable lipid profile, and a high degree of physical inactivity during leisure time, which may predispose for a higher incidence of diabetes and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.