AIMS:To study the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in an urban population of Malaga, Spain and its relationship with educational level. METHODS:A cross-sectional study was performed with a random representative sample of 2270 individuals from the adult population (18–80 years) from a specific Health-Care Centre in Malaga City. All participants underwent a clinical interview, including social-demographical information and a physical examination. A blood sample was also drawn. RESULTS:The mean age of the participants was 43.6 ± 15.6 years and 57.6% had a low educational level. The prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors was: smoking 27.7%, hypertension 33.1%, diabetes 7.1% and dyslipidaemia 65.4%. Over 60% were either overweight or obese, and 76.7% had a sedentary lifestyle. Except for smoking and a low-HDL cholesterol, the prevalence of the other cardiovascular risk factors increased with age. A low educational level was associated with a high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, and this association was significant with regard to smoking, obesity, abdominal obesity and hypertriglyceridaemia. CONCLUSIONS:The population studied presents a high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, especially dyslipidaemia and obesity. The low academic level was associated with an increased prevalence of smoking, obesity and dyslipidaemia. People with a low socio-cultural level are a priority target for introducing policies to prevent and control cardiovascular disease.