The prevalence of the C677T mutation in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene in Asian Indians from India was determined and the association of the mutant allele with coronary artery disease (CAD) was evaluated in a case-control study. The case group consisted of 251 patients with CAD; 195 male and 56 female aged from 29 to 82 years (mean age +/- SD, 57.5 +/- 10.6 years). The control group consisted of 216 apparently healthy individuals without evidence of CAD; 161 male and 55 female aged from 30 to 83 years (mean age +/- SD, 54.9 +/- 10.4 years). All the patients were assessed by coronary angiography. While 33 patients had normal coronaries, 23, 25 and 39 patients had single-vessel, two-vessel and triple-vessel disease, respectively. Eighty-three patients (33%) had suffered myocardial infarction less than a year to five years earlier. The C677T polymorphism in the MTHFR gene was assessed. While 31% of the controls and 38% of the patients had the heterozygous genotype, 2% of the control group and none of the patients had the mutant homozygous genotype. The overall 'T' allelic frequencies were comparable in control and patient groups (0.18 and 0.19, respectively), but the association of the sum of heterozygous and homozygous genotypes with CAD (1, 2 or 3-vessel disease) was statistically significant for females only [Odds ratio (95% confidence intervals), 2.8 (1.1-6.9), p = 0.023]. No association was found between genotype distribution and previous myocardial infarction or severity of atherosclerosis.