A population-based case-control study (involving 1282 cases and 2068 controls) was conducted to examine the risk of myocardial infarction or coronary death after cigarette smokers quit smoking. The odds ratios for current smokers were significantly elevated compared to non-smokers (OR = 2.7 for men and OR = 4.7 for women). For ex-smokers odds ratios declined rapidly after quitting and after about 3 years they were not significantly different from unity. Fibrinogen concentrations measured in the controls only were higher in current smokers and ex-smokers up to 2 years after quitting than in non-smokers and after that time were similar to levels in non-smokers; however, most of the differences among categories of smokers were not statistically significant. These results support the hypothesis that risk of a coronary event in ex-smokers declines rapidly after quitting and within 2-3 years is similar to the risk for non-smokers.