We examined the relation between questionnaire answers concerning living conditions during childhood and coronary risk factors in 7405 men and 7247 women. Poverty during childhood was positively associated with age-adjusted levels (p less than 0.05) of total cholesterol and percentage of current smokers (men only) and negatively associated with body height. When cholesterol was adjusted for age, body mass index, leisure time physical activity, coffee and alcohol consumption, and cigarette smoking there was a significant linear trend in women (p less than or equal to 0.0001) but not in men (p = 0.224). Analysing only subjects born in Troms county, giving a more homogeneous population, the linear trend became significant (p = 0.011) for men also. We conclude that childhood poverty followed by a high standard of living operates, at least partly, as a risk factor for coronary heart disease through conventional risk factors.