Evidence suggests that flavonoid-containing diets reduce cardiovascular risk, but the mechanisms responsible are unclear. In the present study, we sought to determine the effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on vascular function in individuals with CAD (coronary artery disease). Forty subjects (61+/-8 years; 30 male) with CAD were recruited to a 6-week randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Subjects consumed either a flavanol-rich chocolate bar and cocoa beverage daily (total flavanols, 444 mg/day) or matching isocaloric placebos daily (total flavanols, 19.6 mg/day) for 6 weeks. Brachial artery FMD (flow-mediated dilation) and SAC (systemic arterial compliance) were assessed at baseline, 90 min following the first beverage and after 3 and 6 weeks of daily consumption. Soluble cellular adhesion molecules and FBF (forearm blood flow) responses to ACh (acetylcholine chloride; 3-30 microg/min) and SNP (sodium nitroprusside; 0.3-3 microg/min) infusions, forearm ischaemia and isotonic forearm exercise were assessed at baseline and after 6 weeks. FMD, SAC and FBF responses did not differ between groups at baseline. No acute or chronic changes in FMD or SAC were seen in either group. No difference in soluble cellular adhesion molecules, FBF responses to ischaemia, exercise, SNP or ACh was seen in the group receiving flavanol-rich cocoa between baseline and 6 weeks. These data suggest that over a 6-week period, flavanol-rich cocoa does not modify vascular function in patients with established CAD.