It has been suggested that the prevalence of coronary artery disease (CAD) is steadily increasing in sub-Saharan Africa. To address this issue, we conducted a Medline search of English language articles on cardiovascular diseases-and specifically CAD in Africa- from 1966 to 1997. The prevalence of CAD and related complications is relatively low in most regions in Africa compared to that obtained in the economically developed countries, although the situation is rapidly changing due to trends in urbanization, changes in lifestyle, acquisition of technology and the increasing numbers of tertiary care institutions. There are variations in reported prevalence rates within the different regions, but there is an upward trend in all the regions of the sub-Saharan Africa. This trend is believed to be related to the increasing frequencies of CAD risk factors in the subcontinent.