BACKGROUND: To investigate whether low birth weight increases the risk of myocardial infarction later in life in women. METHODS: Nationwide population-based case-control study. Patients and controls: 152 patients with a first myocardial infarction before the age of 50 years in the Netherlands. 568 control women who had not had a myocardial infarction stratified for age, calendar year of the index event, and area of residence. RESULTS: Birth weight in the patient group was significantly lower than in control women (3214 vs. 3370 gram, mean difference -156.3 gram (95%CI -9.5 to -303.1). The odds ratio for myocardial infarction, associated with a birth weight lower than 3000 gram (20th percentile in controls) compared to higher than 3000 gram was 1.7 (95%CI 1.1-2.7), while the odds ratio for myocardial infarction for children with a low birth weight (< 2000 g) compared to a birth weight >/= 2000 g was 2.4 (95%CI 1.0 - 5.8). Both figures did not change after adjustment for putative confounders (age, education level, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, and family history of cardiovascular disease). CONCLUSIONS: Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction before age of 50 in Dutch women.