BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Cured ham is a characteristic food of Spanish Mediterranean diet. However, no prospective epidemiologic study assessing its effects on human health is available. Our aim was to assess the association between the consumption of cured ham and cardiovascular disease, hypertension or weight gain. SUBJECTS AND METHOD: In a prospective and dynamic epidemiologic cohort composed exclusively of university graduates (the SUN Project, n=13,293), we analyzed the incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and average yearly weight gain after a maximum follow-up of 6 years. Cox (proportional hazards) regression models were fitted to estimate hazard ratios (relative risks [RR]) after adjusting for potential confounding. RESULTS: No association was found between higher levels of consumption of cured ham (>4 servings/week) and the incidence of cardiovascular disease (RR=1.02; [95%CI]: 0.44-2.39), in analyses adjusted for age, sex, total energy intake and mediterranean dietary pattern, compared to the consumption of less than one serving a week. When we repeated this comparison for the incidence of hypertension, and adjusting for age, sex, total energy intake and mediterranean dietary pattern the RR was 0.74 (95% CI: 0.55-1.01). In the comparison of average yearly weight gain between these extreme categories of cured ham consumption (<1 versus > or =4 servings/week) a non-significant difference of 0.039 kg (95%IC: -0.036 to 0.113) was found after adjusting for sex, age, total energy intake, mediterranean dietary pattern, smoking, physical activity, and baseline body mass index. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this cohort study do not support any association between the consumption of cured ham and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension or weight gain.