Hypertension has been associated with increased case-fatality rates among individuals who subsequently suffer from acute coronary events. It is unknown whether inflammation modifies this relationship. This population-based study explored the effects of inflammation and hypertension on incidence of coronary event, and on the fatality of the future events. Blood pressure (BP) and five inflammation-sensitive plasma proteins (ISPs, fibrinogen, orosomucoid, alpha 1-antitrypsin, haptoglobin and ceruloplasmin) were determined in 6071 healthy men. During the mean follow-up of 19 years, 679 men had a first coronary event (non-fatal myocardial infarction or death from coronary heart disease). Of them, 197 (29%) were fatal cases (death during the first day). As expected, hypertension was associated with increased incidence of coronary events and increased proportion of fatal cases. At all levels of BP, high ISPs (> or =2 ISPs in top quartile) significantly added to the incidence of events. Men with high ISPs had the highest case-fatality rates. The difference in case-fatality rate between men with and without high ISPs was, however, significant only in men with normal BP (<130/85 mm Hg) (33 vs 19%, P < 0.05), and not in men with moderate or severe hypertension (> or =160/100 mm Hg) (40 vs 35%, P = 0.32). High ISPs add to the incidence of coronary events at all levels of BP. Hypertension and inflammation are both independently associated with increased case-fatality in subjects who later have an acute coronary event. The influence of ISPs on the case-fatality rate seems to be most important in men with normal BP.