AIMS: The purpose of this paper is to explore the link between symptoms of depression and the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in older adults. METHODS: During 2005, 136 older men and 164 women from various parts of Cyprus agreed to participate in the study. The sampling was random and multistage (according to age-sex distribution of the referent population). All participants were living in the community and not in institutions. Among several socio-demographic, bioclinical, lifestyle and dietary characteristics, depressive symptoms were assessed using the short version of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). RESULTS: Participants without signs of depression, typically, have fewer cardiovascular risk factors (i.e. hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes and obesity) than those with moderate or severe symptoms. Even when behavioural variables (e.g. diet, smoking, exercise) are statistically controlled, participants that are higher than others on depression are more likely to have hypertension and/or hypercholesterolemia than those with lower scores. Every one-unit increase in GDS score (range 0-15) is associated with a 12% higher likelihood of having an additional cardiovascular disease risk factor. CONCLUSIONS: Symptoms of depression are positively associated with the number of cardiovascular risk factors in 'healthy' older adults, irrespective of lifestyle behaviours (e.g. smoking, dietary intake and physical activity). RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Healthcare providers should consider the implications of both the presence and nature of this relationship in their continuing care of older adults.