Plasma concentrations of lipoprotein (a), total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol and triglyceride were measured in 62 women who had suffered an episode of objectively confirmed venous thromboembolism (VTE) at < or = 50 years of age, and in 98 age-matched female controls. The mean body mass index (BMI) of cases was significantly (P < 0.001) higher than that of controls. Plasma triglyceride was significantly higher, and total cholesterol/LDL- and HDL-cholesterol significantly lower, in cases compared with controls. After adjustment for BMI, the plasma total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol remained significantly lower in cases. No significant differences in mean plasma lipoprotein (a) levels were identified between cases and controls. Lipoprotein (a) does not appear to be significantly associated with the development of VTE in young women. The increased risk of VTE in obese subjects may be mediated, at least in part, via hypertriglyceridaemia, which has previously been demonstrated to have effects on levels of coagulation factors, natural anticoagulants, and plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1.