Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is a major protein in lipid metabolism existing in three common isoforms: APOE2, -3 and -4. The varepsilon4 allele of the APOE gene ( APOE ) coding for the APOE4 isoform is associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI) and of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recently, several polymorphisms in the APOE regulatory region have been reported. Some of these have been associated with AD and modified APOE allelic mRNA expression in AD brains. Here, we have investigated whether three of these promoter polymorphisms (-491AT, -427CT and -219GT) can also modify cardiovascular risk. The hypothesis was tested in a large multicentre case-control study of MI, the ECTIM Study, on 567 cases and 678 controls. Among the three APOE promoter polymorphisms tested, only the-219T allele was associated with a significantly increased risk of MI (OR = 1.29, 95% CI: 1.09-1.52, P < 0.003) and the effect was shown to be independent of the presence of the other mutations, including the APOE epsilon2/epsilon3/epsilon4 polymorphism. Moreover, the-219T allele greatly decreased the APOE plasma concentrations in a dose-dependent manner ( P < 0.008). These data indicate that the-219GT polymorphism of the APOE regulatory region emerges as a new genetic susceptibility risk factor for MI and constitutes another common risk factor for both neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.