Neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of five retinal disorders studied in the Eye Disease Case-Control Study. Data were obtained from 421 patients with neovascular AMD and 615 controls on a broad array of possible risk factors through interviews, clinical examinations, and laboratory analyses of blood samples. Decreased risk of neovascular AMD was associated with higher levels of carotenoids in the serum samples, higher horizontal cup-to-disc ratios, and use of postmenopausal exogenous estrogens in women. Increased risk of neovascular AMD was associated with cigarette smoking, higher levels of serum cholesterol, and parity greater than zero. No support was found for sunlight exposure, serum zinc levels, or iris color as risk factors for this disease. Although no association was found with a history of cardiovascular disease itself, the associations with postmenopausal exogenous estrogen use, cigarette smoking, and serum cholesterol level are consistent with a hypothesis linking risk factors for cardiovascular disease with neovascular AMD. The association noted between serum carotenoid levels and neovascular AMD supports the hypothesis that higher levels of micronutrients with antioxidant capabilities may decrease the risk of AMD.