The relationship of social class and prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases was investigated within the Swiss MONICA-project, a cross sectional study of the Swiss-Italian population started in 1985/1986. A representative sample of 984 men and 1014 women ages 35 to 64 was selected, the response rate was 78%. Social class was measured by two indicators, occupational status and education. A significant trend was found in age standardized analysis with higher mean blood pressure and body mass index in lower social classes (p < 0.001). When other confounders for cardiovascular diseases were considered in a multiple regression model, the predictive power of social class was moderate. A significant inverse relationship of cardiovascular risk factors and social class was only found for body mass index (both sexes) and exercise in women which was directly related to higher social class and education. No relationship was found for lipids (cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol), blood pressure and smoking in both sexes. Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases beside obesity do not seem to cluster in lower social classes within the Swiss-Italian population.