Objective: To analyze the association between the self-rated health (SRH) status and risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among the middle-aged and eldly Chinese. Methods: Data were obtained from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), which enrolled 21 133 participants by using the probability proportional to size (PPS) sampling from 150 counties/districts of 28 provinces in China from 2011 to 2012. A total of 11 701 participants were included in the study. Basic information and SRH were obtained in the baseline survey via questionnaires. Information of CVD was self-reported during the follow-up. Cox proportional hazards modeling was used to analyze the association between the baseline SRH and risk of CVD. Subgroup analyses were performed by age, sex and body mass index (BMI), and their interactions with SRH for risk of CVD were examined by using the likelihood ratio test. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to test the robustness of the association. Results: Participants were (57.9±9.7) years old, and men accounted for 48.1% (5 626). SRH was reported as the excellent, very good, good, fair and poor among 4.2% (n=487), 13.5% (n=1 583), 33.6% (n=3 932), 35.4% (n=4 147) and 13.3% (n=1 552), respectively. During 42 104 person-years of followed up, 590 cases of CVD were identified. Cox regression analyses showed that compared with the excellent/very good SRH, the HR (95%CI) of CVD risk for the good, fair and poor SRH was 1.36 (1.02-1.80), 1.66 (1.26-2.19) and 1.89 (1.38-2.59), respectively. Subgroup analyses showed that compared with the excellent/very good SRH, HR (95%CI) of CVD risk for poor SRH in the group of 45-59 years old, equal to or over 75 years old, men, women and normal BMI were 2.00 (1.32-3.04), 3.87 (1.04-14.46), 1.76 (1.07-2.91), 1.92 (1.27-2.91) and 2.30 (1.42-3.72), respectively. There were no interactions between age, sex, BMI and SRH (P>0.05). Conclusion: SRH is associated with risk of CVD among middle-aged and elderly Chinese. The CVD risk for good, fair and poor SRH is higher than that for excellent/very good SRH.