OBJECTIVE: To describe the lipid profile and to verify its relationship with cardiovascular disease risk factors in students at a public university in São Paulo. METHODS: After obtaining clinical, anthropomorphic, and lipid profile data from 118 students, variables of the lipid profile were related to other risk factors. RESULTS: The mean age of the students was 20.3 years (SD=1.5). The risk of cardiovascular disease was characterized by a positive family history of ischemic heart disease in 38.9%; sedentariness in 35.6%; limiting and increased total and LDL-C cholesterol levels in 17.7% and 10.2%, respectively; decreased HDL-C levels in 11.1%; increased triglyceride levels in 11.1%; body mass index >25 in 8.5%, and smoking in 6.7% of the subjects. Students' diet was found to be inadequate regarding protein, total fat, saturated fat, sodium, and fiber contents. A statistically significant association between cholesterol and contraceptive use, between HDL-C and contraceptive use, age and percent body fat, and triglycerides and percent lean weight was observed. CONCLUSION: A high prevalence of some risk factors of cardiovascular disease as well as the association between these factors with altered lipid profiles was observed in the young population studied.