The risk factors identified with cardiovascular disease studied in the WHO MONICA project have been shown to have a limited relationship with the coronary heart disease mortality rates between centres, and in mirroring the historical rise and decline in deaths from the disease. Here we show that correlation of the calculated consumption of the milk protein, beta-casein A1 (excluding milk protein in cheese) against ischaemic heart disease (IHD) mortality has a r2 = 0.86. In the states of the former West Germany, where the breed composition of regional cattle herds has remained virtually constant since the 1950s, IHD mortality by state correlates with the estimated consumption of beta-casein A1. Information on other recognized dietary risk factors does not indicate any significant regional difference. Similarly, the populations of Toulouse in France and Belfast in Northern Ireland have almost identical collective 'traditional' risk factors for heart disease, yet the respective mortality rates vary more than threefold. People from Northern Ireland are estimated to consume 3.23 times more beta-casein A1, excluding cheese, than the French. The remarkable agreement between mortality and the consumption of this allele suggests that this factor is worthy of serious consideration as a potential source of cardiovascular disease when taken in conjunction with regional variations in the traditional risk factors. beta-casein A1 consumption also correlates strongly with type 1 diabetes incidence in 0-14-year-olds, suggesting that IHD and diabetes may share at least one causative risk factor.