The authors studied 512 European men all born in 1950 from six different towns in the period October 1988 to May 1989. Anthropometric measurements were taken, including weight, height, and circumferences (waist, hip, thigh). Educational level, activity scores and information on smoking habits were obtained from a questionnaire. Higher educational level was associated with lower body mass index, waist/hip ratio, and waist/thigh ratio. The sports activity score was negatively related to waist/hip ratio (beta +/- standard error of the mean (SEM): -0.009 +/- 0.003) and waist/thigh ratio (-0.041 +/- 0.007), and this could be attributed to a negative relation with waist circumference and a positive relation to thigh circumference. Smoking habits were not related to body mass index but heavy smokers had larger waist circumferences (difference +/- SEM: 1.4 +/- 0.5 cm) as well as higher waist/hip ratios (difference +/- SEM: 0.014 +/- 0.005) and waist/thigh ratios (0.043 +/- 0.013) compared with men who never smoked. These associations between activity scores and smoking habits and fat distribution remained after adjustment for each other and for body mass index and educational level. The authors conclude that physical activity and smoking are independently related to indicators of fat distribution and may be potential confounders in the relations between fat distribution, risk factors, and disease.