Twenty-four-hour dietary recalls were obtained on 1254 Mexican Americans (MA) and 916 Anglo Americans (AA), aged 25 to 64, as part of the San Antonio heart study, a population-based survey of cardiovascular risk factors from 1979 to 1982. In order to separate the effects of ethnicity from those of socioeconomic status (SES), we sampled subjects in three distinct neighborhoods: a low income MA neighborhood (barrio), a middle income neighborhood, and an upper income, predominantly Anglo, neighborhood. Intakes of protein, fat, and carbohydrate were similar to those found in other dietary surveys (NHANES, LRC). MA females living in the barrio consumed more cholesterol than either Anglos or MAs living in the other two neighborhoods. In MA males, the rise in the Hegsted Score with increasing SES paralleled the rise in LDL cholesterol with rising SES reported previously by our group. Females consumed a less atherogenic diet than males.