To assess the effect of dietary reduction of plasma cholesterol concentrations on coronary atherosclerosis, we set up a randomised, controlled, end-point-blinded trial based on quantitative image analysis of coronary angiograms in patients with angina or past myocardial infarction. Another intervention group received diet and cholestyramine, to determine the effect of a greater reduction in circulating cholesterol concentrations. 90 men with coronary heart disease (CHD), who had a mean (SD) plasma cholesterol of 7.23 (0.77) mmol/l were randomised to receive usual care (U, controls), dietary intervention (D), or diet plus cholestyramine (DC), with angiography at baseline and at 39 (SD 3.5) months. Mean plasma cholesterol during the trial period was 6.93 (U), 6.17 (D), and 5.56 (DC) mmol/l. The proportion of patients who showed overall progression of coronary narrowing was significantly reduced by both interventions (U 46%, D 15%, DC 12%), whereas the proportion who showed an increase in luminal diameter rose significantly (U 4%, D 38%, DC 33%). The mean absolute width of the coronary segments (MAWS) studied decreased by 0.201 mm in controls, increased by 0.003 mm in group D, and increased by 0.103 mm in group DC (p less than 0.05), with improvement also seen in the minimum width of segments, percentage diameter stenosis, and edge-irregularity index in intervention groups. The change in MAWS was independently and significantly correlated with LDL cholesterol concentration and LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio during the trial period. Both interventions significantly reduced the frequency of total cardiovascular events. Dietary change alone retarded overall progression and increased overall regression of coronary artery disease, and diet plus cholestyramine was additionally associated with a net increase in coronary lumen diameter. These findings support the use of a lipid-lowering diet, and if necessary of appropriate drug treatment, in men with CHD who have even mildly raised serum cholesterol concentrations.