Premature menopause and bilateral oophorectomy in young women are associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction and overall mortality. Observational studies suggest an interval of 5-10 years between loss of ovarian function and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This finding is consonant with a published autopsy study of women who had undergone bilateral oophorectomy. The progression of atherosclerosis is retarded with the use of estrogen replacement therapy in non-human primates and women. Hormone therapy reduced the incidence of cardiovascular disease in women following bilateral oophorectomy. These findings support the use of hormone therapy in young women who have lost ovarian function.