In a community-based study of second-generation Japanese-American men known to have a high prevalence of both Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance, there was a highly significant association of coronary heart disease with glucose intolerance in a study sample of 219 men. Intra-abdominal cross sectional fat area determined by computed tomography was significantly elevated in men with coronary heart disease even after adjustment for glucose intolerance and body mass index (p = 0.026). Other differences that were significantly related to coronary heart disease after adjustment for glucose intolerance were lower high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (p = 0.001), elevated total triglyceride and very low density lipoprotein triglyceride (p less than 0.001), and elevated fasting insulin and C-peptide levels p = 0.001. When these variables were tested in a stepwise multiple logistic regression model, significant independent associations with coronary heart disease were found only for total triglyceride and fasting C-peptide after adjustment for glucose tolerance status. Variables identified to be associated with coronary heart disease were interpreted as representing or manifesting an insulin resistant state. Thus, insulin resistance may be the underlying risk factor aetiologically linking glucose intolerance with coronary heart disease.