Static electric dipole polarizabilities are computed for all states of the ground electronic configurations of C, N, and O atoms. The method used first obtains perturbing orbital functions by an approximate variational calculation of the polarizability, and then uses these orbitals to define virtual excitations for calculations by superposition of configurations. One-electron virtual excitations and transitions involving these orbitals are included in the N-electron variational wave function. Excellent agreement is obtained with the experimentally known polarizabilities of the N(So4) and O(P3) ground states, and with prior theoretical results for these atoms and for C(P3). Polarizabilities of the ground-configuration metastable states C(D1,S1), N(Do2,Po2), and O(D1,S1) are computed at the same level of approximation. © 1977 The American Physical Society.