Renal transplant recipients have a markedly increased risk of premature cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared with the general population, although considerably lower than that of patients receiving maintenance haemodialysis. CVD in transplant recipients is poorly characterised and differs from the nonrenal population, with a much higher proportion of fatal to nonfatal cardiac events. In addition to traditional ischaemic heart disease risk factors such as age, gender, diabetes and smoking, there are additional factors to consider in this population such as the importance of hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy and uraemic cardiomyopathy. There are factors specific to transplantation such immunosuppressive therapies and graft dysfunction which contribute to this altered risk profile. However, understanding and treatment is limited by the absence of large randomised intervention trials addressing risk factor modification, with the exception of the ALERT study. The approach to managing these patients should begin early and be multifactorial in nature.