The impact of classic cardiovascular risk factors on oxidative stress status in a high-risk cardiovascular Mediterranean population of 527 subjects was estimated. Oxidative stress markers (malondialdehyde, 8-oxo-7'8'-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine, oxidized/reduced glutathione ratio) together with the activity of antioxidant enzyme triad (superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase) were analysed in circulating mononuclear blood cells. Malondialdehyde, oxidized glutathione and the ratio of oxidized to reduced glutathione were significantly higher while catalase and glutathione peroxidase activities were significantly lower in high cardiovascular risk participants than in controls. Statistically significant differences were obtained after additional multivariate control for sex, age, obesity, diabetes, lipids and medications. Among the main cardiovascular risk factors, hypertension was the strongest determinant of oxidative stress in high risk subjects studied at a primary prevention stage.