In human beings, cardiovascular activity has a distinct circadian variation: Heart rate, blood pressure, and vascular tone decrease at night. Nocturnal cardiovascular blunting is at least partially linked to the autonomic activity and increased risk of cardiac and cerebral events. To assess whether decreased nocturnal melatonin synthesis and secretion in coronary artery disease (CAD), we investigated nocturnal secretion pattern of melatonin in patients with CAD and healthy subjects. The present study performed in 16 patients with angiographically documented CAD (aged 46-71 years) and in nine healthy controls (aged 36-66 years). Blood samples were collected every 2 h between 22:00 and 08:00 h. Melatonin levels were measured with a commercially available radioimmunoassay kit. We found large interindividual variation in the pattern of melatonin secretion in both groups. Patients with CAD secreted less nocturnal melatonin at 02:00, 04:00 and 08:00 h than control subjects (P=0.014, P=0.04 and P=0.025, respectively). Peak and Delta melatonin (peak-lowest melatonin) were found lower in patients with CAD (48.6 [19.1-75.4] vs. 131.4 [67.8-137.2] pg/ml, P=0.006 and 43 [10.5-68.5] vs. 107.6 [55.7-113.1] pg/ml, P=0.002, respectively). Peak time of melatonin secretion was observed earlier in patients with CAD (02:00 h [23:00-02:00 h] vs. 03:45 h [02:00-05:00 h], P=0.04). Our study provides useful and preliminary information about decreased nocturnal melatonin synthesis and release in patients with CAD might help physicians in managing these patients.