The Minnesota Heart Health Program (MHHP) is a community-based research and demonstration program designed to accelerate population-wide changes in coronary risk factors and disease. MHHP is on-going in three pairs of communities in Minnesota, North and South Dakota. To strengthen inference of program effects, its basic design involves elements of control, repetition, sensitive trend measurements and evaluation of the effects of program components. Its evaluation design is presented here as a comprehensive measurement system for disease endpoints, risk factor levels and efficacy of specific educational programs. The MHHP design is able to compare risk factor levels and mortality rates between education and comparison communities. MHHP statistical power is sufficient to detect community-wide changes of public health import. Early results show comparability of education and comparison communities for most variables. Widespread community awareness of and participation in MHHP programs is reported.