The objective of this study was to compare the prevalence of health risk behaviors among elderly widowers with that of elderly partnered males, as well as single or divorced/separated men. Additionally, we set out to examine the prevalence of risk behaviors in elderly widowered men according to age, education level, and race/skin color. A cross-sectional study was conducted with elderly men (≥ 60 years) who were interviewed through the Surveillance System of Risk and Protective Factors for Chronic Diseases by Telephone Survey (Vigitel) in 2016 (n=5,384) and 2017 (n=5,801). The Vigitel survey includes representative samples of adults residing in the capitals of Brazilian states and the Federal District, and of those surveyed, 886 were widowers. Identified risk behaviors included physical inactivity during leisure time, irregular consumption of fruits, vegetables and legumes, smoking and alcohol abuse. The prevalence of smoking was lower among partnered elderly men [PR=0.68, CI95% (0.52-0.90)] than among widowers. There were no differences in the prevalence of other risk behaviors between widowers and other groups. When only widowers were taken into account, there was significant association of risk behaviors with age and educational level, but not with race/skin color.