OBJECTIVE: To assess the frequency of cardiovascular risk factors in the rural community of Cavunge, in the Brazilian state of Bahia. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was carried out with 160 individuals (age > 19 years) randomly drawn from those listed in the population census of the Cavunge Project. The following parameters were studied: arterial hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, obesity, smoking, waist-hip ratio (WHR), physical activity, and overall cardiovascular risk classified according to the Framingham score. The assessing parameters used were those established by the III Brazilian Consensus on Hypertension and the II Brazilian Consensus on Dyslipidemia. RESULTS: Of the randomly drawn individuals, 126 with a mean age of 46.6 + 19.7 years were included in the study, 43.7% of whom were males. The frequency of arterial hypertension was 36.5%; 20.4% of the individuals had cholesterol levels >240 mg/dL; 31.1% of the individuals had LDL-C levels > 130 mg/dL; 4% were diabetic; and 39.7% had a high-risk Framingham score. Abdominal obesity was observed in 41.3% of the population and in 57.7% of the females. High caloric-expenditure (HCE) physical activities were performed by 56.5% of the individuals. The HCE group had a greater frequency of normal triglyceride levels (63% vs 44%; P=0.05), no diabetes, and WHR tending towards normal (46% vs 27%, P=0.08) as compared with those in the low caloric-expenditure group. CONCLUSION: Cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, are frequently found in rural communities. The greatest frequency of normal triglyceride levels and normal WHR in the HCE group reinforces the association between greater caloric expenditure and a better risk profile.