In 1991, we described the recruitment and goals for a cohort of young adults. At the time, little was known about long-term retention of young, healthy and mobile adults or minorities. We present retention strategies and rates over 25 years, and predictors of participation at the year 25 follow-up examination of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study, a longitudinal investigation of coronary artery disease risk factors in a biracial population initially ages 18-30 years recruited from four U.S. centers in 1985. CARDIA has employed a range of strategies to enhance retention, including two contacts per year, multiple tracking methods to locate participants lost-to-follow-up, use of birthday and holiday cards, participant newsletters, examination scheduling accommodations and monetary reimbursements, and a standing committee whose primary purpose has been to continually review retention rates and strategies and identify problems and successes. For 25 years, CARDIA has maintained >90% contact with participants between examinations, over 80% at any 2-year interval, and a 72% 25-year examination attendance rate. Baseline predictors of year 25 examination attendance include white race, female sex, older age, higher education, nonsmoking and moderate alcohol consumption. Consistent use of multiple retention strategies, including attention to contact rates and sharing of best strategies across study centers, has resulted in high retention of a diverse, initially young, biracial cohort.