Regional body fat distribution has an important influence on metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors. Increased abdominal (visceral) fat accumulation is a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD), dyslipidemia, hypertension, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The recent emphasis on treatment of the dyslipidemia of the metabolic syndrome (hypertriglyceridemia, reduced high-density lipoprotein, and increased small, dense low-density lipoprotein particle number) has compelled practitioners to consider lipid-lowering therapy in a greater number of their patients, as one in two individuals over age 50 has the metabolic syndrome. Individuals with the metabolic syndrome typically have normal low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and current lipid-lowering guidelines may underestimate their cardiovascular risk. Two subgroups of patients with the metabolic syndrome are at particularly high risk for premature CAD. One, individuals with type 2 diabetes, accounts for 20-30% of early cardiovascular disease. The second, familial combined hyperlipidemia, accounts for an additional 10-20% of premature CAD. Familial combined hyperlipidemia is characterized by the metabolic syndrome in addition to a disproportionate elevation of apolipoprotein B levels. The measurement of fasting glucose and apolipoprotein B, in addition to the fasting lipid profile, can help to estimate CAD risk in patients with the metabolic syndrome.