The relationship between plasma fibrinogen levels and the severity of coronary atherosclerosis was examined in 229 patients, aged 25-82 years (162 men and 67 women), undergoing coronary angiography. Severity of coronary atherosclerosis was assessed in terms of the number of vessels with a 75% or greater stenosis and Gensini's severity score. Fibrinogen levels increased progressively with the severity of coronary atherosclerosis, determined by both the number of involved vessels and Gensini's severity score in men, and the relationships were statistically significant. Similar patterns were noted among women, but the trends were not statistically significant. The association was evident even after adjustment for age, hypertension, total cholesterol, cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, high density lipoprotein cholesterol and body mass index. These results provide evidence that in the Japanese also plasma fibrinogen levels can serve as an independent indicator of the progression of coronary atherosclerosis.