We explored the social and contextual etiology of coronary heart disease (CHD) prevention and management in women. Social and contextual influences on CHD risk include such factors as socioeconomic status, access to healthcare, cultural mores, working conditions including work overload, multiple role responsibilities, and social isolation. Women, particularly economically disadvantaged women, occupy lower levels on the social status hierarchy and, therefore, experience more stressful life experiences, less favorable living conditions, and less opportunity to affect positive health behavior and outcomes. Women are often discriminated against economically, politically, and socially, and this discrimination may adversely affect their efforts at CHD health promotion and treatment. Multiple role responsibilities within the family and psychosocial factors, including chronic life stress, are critical to an understanding of the health status of women, particularly poor and minority women. Although community-based interventions appear to be ideal for addressing the contextual risks related to CHD in women, a number of issues need to be considered, for example, the limited acknowledgment of secular trends in economic development that influence lifestyle decisions and health promotion efforts. Directions for research and interventions include recognition of the full spectrum of CHD risk in women, recognition of culturally competent interventions, and recognition of the need for empowerment of women.