The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between leisure time physical activity (LTPA) and common risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes in community-dwelling adults with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). LTPA was measured using the Physical Activity Recall Assessment for People with SCI in 76 men and women with chronic (> or =1 year) paraplegia or tetraplegia, living in or near Hamilton, Ontario. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, body composition (fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM)), blood pressure, and biochemical data were collected. Thirty-seven percent (n = 28 participants) were inactive, reporting no LTPA whatsoever, and were compared with an equal-sized group consisting of the most active study participants (> or =25 min of LTPA per day). After adjusting for significant covariates, BMI (18.7%), %FM (19.4%), and C-reactive protein (143%) were all lower, and %FFM was higher (7.2%), in active participants (all p < or = 0.05). Ten percent of active participants vs. 33% of inactive participants were insulin resistant (p = 0.03). Waist circumference (17.6%) and systolic blood pressure (15.3%) were lower in active vs. inactive participants with paraplegia (both p < or = 0.05), but not tetraplegia. In conclusion, greater daily LTPA is associated with lower levels of selected CVD and type 2 diabetes risk factors in individuals living with SCI. Whether this relationship translates into a lower incidence of these chronic diseases has yet to be determined.