Because individual diagnoses of vascular infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae depend entirely on surgically removed tissues, a better assay to predict vascular infection is needed. Polymerase chain reaction detection of chlamydial DNA was applied to CD14-positive cells collected from 238 patients with angiographically identified unstable angina or acute myocardial infarction. C. pneumoniae was detected in 52 (28%) of 188 persons with unstable angina and in 13 (26%) of 50 persons with myocardial infarction. Differences between groups were not significant. C. pneumoniae is present in monocytes/macrophages of a significant proportion of persons with progressive coronary artery disease. Infarction is not accompanied by a rise in chlamydial detection rates. The potential role of chlamydiae in coronary atherosclerosis may therefore be more related to acceleration of disease or systemic effects by persistent infection than to sudden initiation of infarction by acute infection.