It has been recognized over the past years that women form a distinct subpopulation within patients with coronary heart disease. This phenomenon should be acknowledged in the management and in the assessment of coronary heart disease. Over the past years remarkable progress has been made concerning our knowledge of cardiovascular risk factors related to gender. For instance, diabetes, high density lipoproteins and triglycerides levels have been found to have a greater impact on coronary heart disease risk in women compared to men. On the other hand, evidence showing that lipoprotein (a) is a cardiovascular risk factor seems to be stronger in men than in women. For optimal treatment and prevention of coronary heart disease it is necessary to acknowledge that it is not self-evident that women and men show similar responses to risk factors or to treatment. This review article addresses the role of cardiovascular risk factors focusing on the differential impact they might have on men and women.