We evaluated how body fat percentage, measured by a portable near-infrared interactance (NIR) device predicts cardiovascular (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), and ischemic stroke events in a prospective population-based survey. The study population consisted of 2,842 men and 3,196 women, who participated in the FINRISK'92 survey. Obesity was assessed with BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and body fat percentage measured with an NIR. Mean length of follow-up was 9 years and 3 months. In Cox proportional hazards regression analyses for men, BMI, waist circumference, and WHR as well as body fat percentage were predictors of a CVD event when adjusted for age and for major risk factors. Hazard ratio (HR) per 1 s.d. was 1.27 (95% confidence interval: 1.10–1.48) for body fat percentage, 1.30 (1.16–1.46) for BMI, and 1.31 (1.16–1.50) for waist circumference. Among women, the body fat lost its predictive power in a fully adjusted model. Body fat percentage, BMI, waist circumference, and WHR were predictors of a CHD event both among men and women, whereas body fat percentage did not predict ischemic stroke among either gender. We observed that body fat percentage measured by an NIR device was a significant predictor of CVD and CHD events among men and women, but in our population-based survey, it did not provide any additional predictive power over and above the simpler measures, such as BMI or WHR.