Background: Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are becoming significant causes of morbidity and mortality, particularly in sub-Saharan African countries, although local, high-quality data to inform evidence-based policies are lacking. Objectives: To determine the magnitude of NCDs and their risk factors in Malawi. Methods: Using the WHO STEPwise approach to chronic disease risk factor surveillance, a population-based, nationwide cross-sectional survey was conducted between July and September 2009 on participants aged 25-64 years. Socio-demographic and behaviour risk factors were collected in Step 1. Physical anthropometric measurements and blood pressure were documented in Step 2. Blood cholesterol and fasting blood glucose were measured in Step 3. Results and Conclusion: A total of 5,206 adults (67% females) were surveyed. Tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking and raised blood pressure (BP) were more frequent in males than females, 25% vs 3%, 30% vs 4% and 37% vs 29%. Overweight, physical inactivity and raised cholesterol were more common in females than males, 28% vs 16%, 13% vs 6% and 11% vs 6%. Tobacco smoking was more common in rural than urban areas 11% vs 7%, and overweight and physical inactivity more common in urban than rural areas 39% vs 22% and 24% vs 9%, all with p < 0.05. Overall (both sexes) prevalence of tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, overweight and physical inactivity was 14%, 17%, 22%, 10% and prevalence of raised BP, fasting blood sugar and cholesterol was 33%, 6% and 9% respectively. These data could be useful in the formulation and advocacy of NCD policy and action plan in Malawi.