BACKGROUND: Sullivan has suggested that higher incidence of coronary heart disease in men and postmenopausal women is due to higher levels of stored iron in these two groups. A few epidemiologic studies in humans have reported the association between iron stores and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. But there is conflicting evidence regarding the relationship between iron and cardiovascular diseases. The present study evaluated the relationship between ferritin and well established cardiovascular risk factors. METHODS: There were 288 healthy subjects who visited a health promotion center of a general hospital. We collected data by means of self-reported questionnare and measured height, weight and blood pressure. Serum ferritin, fasting blood glucose, lipid profiles, and C-reactive protein were measured at a fasting state. RESULTS: Mean serum ferritin values were 150.1+/-82.2 ng/mL in men and 61.7+/-38.2 ng/mL in women (P<0.001). Serum ferritin level in current smoker was higher than in non-smoker (157.6+/-111.8 ng/mL versus 100.5+/-64.2 ng/mL, P=0.006). Serum ferritin was significantly and positively correlated with body mass index, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol and triglyceride. There was no statistical significance in age, C-reactive protein, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. In multiple regression analysis, there was association between ferritin and sex (beta=-80.333, P<0.001) and triglycerides (beta=0.182, P=0.030). CONCLUSION: The serum ferritin level in men is higher than in women in healthy adults. Serum ferritin is positively associated with triglycerides.