Saturated fat (SF) intake contributes to the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality. Recently, the protective effects of fruit and vegetable (FV) intake on both CHD and all-cause mortality were documented. However, individuals consuming more FV may be displacing higher-fat foods. Therefore, we investigated the individual and combined effects of FV and SF consumption on total and CHD mortality among 501 initially healthy men in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA). Over a mean 18 y of follow-up, 7-d diet records were taken at 1-7 visits. Cause of death was ascertained from death certificates, hospital records, and autopsy data. After adjustment for age, total energy intake, BMI, smoking, alcohol use, dietary supplements, and physical activity score, FV and SF intakes were individually associated with lower all-cause and CHD mortality (P < 0.05). When both FV and SF were included in the same model, associations of each were attenuated with CHD mortality, and no longer significant for all-cause mortality. Men consuming the combination of > or =5 servings of FV/d and < or =12% energy from SF were 31% less likely to die of any cause (P < 0.05), and 76% less likely to die from CHD (P < 0.001), relative to those consuming < 5 FV and >12% SF. Men consuming either low SF or high FV, but not both, did not have a significantly lower risk of total mortality; but did have 64-67% lower risk of CHD mortality (P < 0.05) relative to those doing neither. These results confirm the protective effects of low SF and high FV intake against CHD mortality. In addition, they extend these findings by demonstrating that the combination of both behaviors is more protective than either alone, suggesting that their beneficial effects are mediated by different mechanisms.