The Northwick Park Heart Study (NPHS) has investigated the thrombotic component of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) by the inclusion of measures of haemostatic function. Among 1511 white men aged between 40 and 64 at the time of recruitment, 109 subsequently experienced first major events of IHD. High levels of factor VII coagulant activity and of plasma fibrinogen were associated with increased risk, especially for events occurring within 5 years of recruitment. These associations seemed to be stronger than for cholesterol, elevations of one standard deviation in factor VII activity, fibrinogen, and cholesterol being associated with increases in the risk of an episode of IHD within 5 years of 62%, 84%, and 43% respectively. Multiple regression analyses indicated independent associations between each of the clotting factor measures and IHD but not between the blood cholesterol level and IHD incidence. The risk of IHD in those with high fibrinogen levels was greater in younger than in older men. Much of the association between smoking and IHD may be mediated through the plasma fibrinogen level. The biochemical disturbance leading to IHD may lie at least as much in the coagulation system as in the metabolism of cholesterol.