BACKGROUND: To investigate the relationship between adiposity and risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in normal weight individuals. METHODS: The study subjects were those over 19 years old, less than 23 kg/m2 of body mass index (BMI). They were examined in a health promotion center of a general hospital from June to November, 2001 (309 men and 369 women). Height, weight, BMI, blood pressure (BP), serum lipids and fasting blood glucose (FBS) were checked. Percent body percent (%BF) was obtained by bioelectrical method. Normal weight subjects were divided into two groups according to their %BF; then, the groups were evaluated for the presence of CVD risk factors. RESULTS: The average age of the study subjects was 43.66+/-11.26 years old in men and 41.11+/-10.90 years old in women. The average BMI was 21.15+/-1.47 kg/m2 in men and 20.68+/-1.53 kg/m2 in women. High %BF group showed significantly increased frequency of higher BP, FBS, total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG) and LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) compared with low %BF group in both sexes. In men, odds ratios (ORs) of the high %BF group with respect to the low %BF group were significantly high for BP and TG elevation. ORs of the high %BF group were significantly high for FBS, TC, LDL-C and TG elevation in women. ORs for more than one CVD risk factor was 2.46 (1.38~4.38) in men and 1.50 (0.95~2.36) in women. CONCLUSION: Increased %BF was related to cardiovascular risk factors in normal weight subjects. The result was more significant for normal weight men than normal weight women.