Abstract Background. Rapid health and nutrition transitional changes are resulting in greater prominence of non-communicable disease (NCD) in Latin America, particularly among the poor. Objective. The study aims to examine the extent to which NCD pxfsrevails in Peru and the socioeconomic status (SES) as a risk factor. Design. Between 1998 and 2000, health surveys and clinical assessments were completed on 2337 adults in six cities, 18 to 60 years of age. Stratified by social class, multi-staged random sampling was used. Anthropometric data, blood pressure and serum samples were collected. Results. Adjusting for age, hypertension, low HDL cholesterol, high total cholesterol and diabetes was found in 47%, 40%, 21% and 17% of women and in 44%, 38%, 27% and 19% of men, respectively. Over one quarter of the population exhibited multiple risk factors, not including overweight and obesity. Across all study sites, lowest SES revealed highest burden of NCD and appeared as an independent risk factor for associated NCD indicators. Conclusion. The high prevalence of NCD in urban areas of Peru is not only associated with excess body weight, but also with poverty itself. The greater burden of NCD in the poorest areas of society requires a better understanding of causal determinants and may have implications in terms of public health policies and interventions.