Limited egg consumption is often recommended to reduce serum cholesterol concentration for the prevention of CHD. We examined the association of egg consumption and total cholesterol concentration with the risk of CHD. A total of 90 735 subjects (19 856 men and 21 408 women, aged 40-59 years in cohort I; 23 463 men and 26 008 women, aged 40-69 years in cohort II) were followed from 1990-4 to the end of 2001 under the Japan Public Health Center-based prospective study. Total cholesterol was obtained in 36 % of the subjects. Men and women were combined for the analyses. The subjects were categorised into four groups according to egg consumption. Subjects with total cholesterol >or=2200 mg/l were less frequent in frequent egg consumption groups in both cohorts (trend P<0.0001). Subjects with <1 d/week of egg consumption were more likely to avoid a cholesterol-rich diet. Egg consumption was not associated with the risk of CHD, although total cholesterol was significantly related to the risk of CHD. The multivariate hazard ratio of CHD in subjects with total cholesterol >or=2400 v. <1800 mg/l was 2.17 (95 % CI 1.22, 3.85; trend P=0.0018). In conclusion, eating eggs more frequently, up to almost daily, was not associated with an increase in CHD incidence for middle-aged Japanese men and women. Subjects with hypercholesterolaemia were less frequently in frequent egg consumption groups, probably because they avoided eating eggs.