Background: Reduced heart rate variability (HRV), a non-invasive marker of autonomic dysfunction, and healthy lifestyle are associated with an increased morbidity and mortality of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Heart rate variability is a potential mediator between behavioural risk factors and adverse health outcomes. Therefore, the aim of the doctoral thesis was to study the association of HRV with behavioural risk factors in an elderly Eastern German population. Methods: This analysis was based on baseline data of 1546 participants (45-83 years) of the prospective, population-based CARLA Study (Cardiovascular disease, living and ageing in Halle). Physical activity, smoking habits, alcohol consumption and dietary patterns were assessed in standardized interviews. Time- and frequency-domain measures of HRV were computed from 20-minute ECGs. Their association with behavioural risk factors was determined by linear and non-parametric regression modelling. Results: The analysis showed higher HRV indices in women and a graded inverse association of HRV with age except for the oldest age-group. There were only weak and no consistent associations of higher physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption and non-smoking with higher time- and frequency-domain HRV in both sexes. Conclusion: This cross-sectional analysis showed weak and no consistent associations of behavioural risk factors with HRV. For a comprehensive evaluation of the potential role of HRV as mediator for CVD prospective analyses of follow-up data are necessary.