Cardiovascular diseases are now the world's leading cause of death. To reduce high rates of such preventable premature deaths, evidence-based approaches to heart health promotion must be disseminated across public health systems. To succeed, we must build capacity to disseminate strategies that are practical and effective. However, we know little about such dissemination, and we lack both conceptual frameworks to guide our thinking and appropriate scientific methodologies. This article presents conceptual and analytic frameworks that integrate several approaches to understanding and studying dissemination processes within public health systems. This work is based on the Canadian Heart Health Dissemination Project, a research program examining a national heart health dissemination initiative. The primary focus is the development of a systematic protocol for measuring levels of capacity and dissemination, and determining successful conditions for, and barriers to, capacity and dissemination, as well as the nature of the relationship between these key concepts.