The 1987 Report of the federal/provincial working group on cardiovascular disease prevention entitled "Promoting Heart Health in Canada" was developed about the time the new concepts for health promotion were emerging in government policy. The public health strategy supported in "Promoting Heart Health in Canada" captured the approach advocated in the Ottawa Charter for health promotion: need for environmental, intersectorial approaches and healthy public policy. The implementation of this policy framework had led to the Canadian Heart Health Initiative. It provided a step by step approach to the implementation of the ten provincial heart health programs. Key assets for the Initiative include the development of effective partnerships with over 300 organizations at the provincial, national and international levels; a large database on risk factors and over 40 demonstration communities which should contribute to interventional knowledge in the area of prevention. The heart health model provides an approach to address increasingly complex health issues that we can expect to face in the year 2000.