In the rural area of Newfoundland, 522 residents volunteered for a cardiovascular risk factor evaluation. Medical history, blood pressure (BP), blood cholesterol, smoking, and body mass index were assessed. Seventy-five percent of the population had at least one of these risk factors. The most frequent condition had been hypercholesterolemia in 61% of respondents. An intensive 6-month educational program aimed at a group of 41 high-risk individuals led to a significant decline in systolic BP, diastolic BP, body mass index, and serum cholesterol. Although the risk factor levels increased again after termination of the intervention program 6 months later, they have remained below the original values. The results of this pilot study led to a design of a major random clinical trial on nonpharmacological therapy, to be implemented in the years 1990-1993.