At the present stage of India's health transition, chronic diseases contribute to an estimated 53% of deaths and 44% of disability-adjusted life-years lost. Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are highly prevalent in urban areas. Tobacco-related cancers account for a large proportion of all cancers. Tobacco consumption, in diverse smoked and smokeless forms, is common, especially among the poor and rural population segments. Hypertension and dyslipidaemia, although common, are inadequately detected and treated. Demographic and socioeconomic factors are hastening the health transition, with sharp escalation of chronic disease burdens expected over the next 20 years. A national cancer control programme, initiated in 1975, has established 13 registries and increased the capacity for treatment. A comprehensive law for tobacco control was enacted in 2003. An integrated national programme for the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes is under development. There is a need to increase resource allocation, coordinate multisectoral policy interventions, and enhance the engagement of the health system in activities related to chronic disease prevention and control.