The relation of total plasma cholesterol to the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) was one of the first findings of the Framingham Heart Study. The Framingham data established that a 1% increase in total cholesterol produced a 2% increase in CHD incidence. This relation has now been shown to apply to persons aged 60 to 70 years as well as to younger persons. The risk of CHD associated with various factors, including total cholesterol, low- and high-density lipoprotein and triglyceride levels, uric acid, blood glucose level, fibrinogen level and hypertensive blood pressure, is discussed with particular reference to the elderly. New data from the Framingham group show that increased left ventricular mass may be a significant risk factor for CHD, particularly among the elderly.