The World Health Organization has emphasized the importance of community participation as a keystone of primary health care and in meeting their goal of health for all. This article reports on the first three years of experience in a community-based approach to cardiovascular health. The project involves three communities totaling almost a quarter of a million inhabitants with matched comparison communities. An extensive volunteer structure provides a dynamic partnership wih the education research group in bringing learning opportunities and enabling situations for the practice of heart healthy life styles in the total community. The project goal is to demonstrate reduced mortality and morbidity from educational interventions. The parti cipative intervention model suggests a feasible alternative for future public health practice.