BACKGROUND: Recent national data of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in Australia are limited. Therefore this study sought to gain a contemporary snapshot of the blood pressure (BP) profile of Australian adults. METHODS: We established 100 metropolitan and regional screening sites. Using a standardized protocol and the same automated, validated BP monitor, Registered Nurses recorded the BP and other risk factors for CVD of self-selected volunteers on a single day. RESULTS: A total of 13,825 subjects (55% female, aged 48±16 years) were assessed. Mean systolic and diastolic BP was 131±18 and 79±12 mm Hg. Overall, 34% had an elevated BP while 10% being treated for hypertension (HT) were normotensive (combined total 44%). Elevated BP was more common in older individuals, men (42% versus 27% of women), regional dwelling residents (40% versus 32% of metropolitan) and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds (39% versus 30% of higher). Overall, 50% of subjects with a history of HT had elevated BP compared to 30% without a history of HT. Adjusting for age and sex, elevated BP was independently associated with obesity (OR: 1.77, 95% CI 1.52-2.06), regional location (OR: 1.32, 95% CI 1.19-1.45) and modifiable risk factors (OR: 1.28, 95% CI 1.21-1.35); those being treated for CVD or diabetes are less likely to have high BP. CONCLUSIONS: In the largest study of its kind in Australia, the findings highlight the need for continued vigilance to detect, monitor and prevent elevated BP within an ageing population in whom metabolic disorders are becoming more frequent.