Because African Americans tend to have lower socioeconomic status (SES) than whites and numerous health indicators are related to SES variables, it is important when examining between-group differences in health indices to account for SES differences. This study examined the effects of income and education on several biologic and behavioral risk factors in a sample of sociodemographically diverse African American adults. Approximately 1,000 African American adults (aged 18-87) were recruited from 14 churches with predominantly black membership to participate in a nutrition education intervention. Demographics, height, weight, blood pressure, self-reported cigarette and alcohol use, self-reported diet by food frequency questionnaire, serum carotenoids, serum total cholesterol, and nutrition knowledge were assessed. The association of these risk factors were examined by four levels of education and income. For men, body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol, daily intake of fruits and vegetables, serum carotenoids, heavy alcohol use, or exercise were not associated significantly with income or education using analysis of variance (ANOVA). Past month alcohol use and nutrition knowledge were associated positively with education, but not income. For women, body mass index and smoking were associated inversely with income, but not with education. Blood pressure, total cholesterol, intake of fruits and vegetables, heavy alcohol use, and exercise were not associated with either income or education using ANOVA. Serum carotenoids, any 30-day alcohol use, and nutrition knowledge were associated positively with both income and education. Results using linear regression generally were similar for men and women, although a few more variables were associated significantly with SES compared to ANOVA analyses. Several health indicators that have been associated with socioeconomic variables in whites were not associated or only weakly associated in this diverse sample of African Americans. One interpretation of these findings is that SES factors may function differently among blacks and whites.